Indian football legend PK Banerjee passes away at the age of 83
Kolkata/IBNS: Indian football legend Pradip Kumar Banerjee passed away at the age of 83 in Kolkata's Medica Superspecialty Hospital on Friday afternoon.
He was suffering from Sepsis and multi-organ failure due to pneumonia on a background of Parkinson’s disease, Dementia and Heart problems.
Admitted in hospital since Feb 7, he was on ventilator support in the intensive care unit for more than two weeks and his clinical condition had deteriorated further in the last three days. The end came at around 2:08 pm on Friday.
Born on Jun 23, 1936, he had made 84 appearances for India, scoring 65 goals during the course of his career.
An Arjuna awardee, he was also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri in 1990 and was named Indian Footballer of the 20th century by IFFHS.
In 2004, he was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit, the highest honour awarded by FIFA.
At the age of 15, Banerjee represented Bihar in Santosh Trophy.
Later, he represented Eastern Railway.
At the age of 19, he made his debut for the national team in 1955 Quadrangular tournament in Dhaka (then Dacca), Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).
Banerjee was an integral part of India’s Gold Medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.
He represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finish fourth. Furthermore, he captained the National Team in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France to help India register a 1-1 draw.
He represented India in 36 official matches, wearing the captain’s armband in six of them. In the process, he scored 19 official goals for the country.
Condoling his death, Praful Patel, the President of the All India Football Federation, in his message said, “It’s sad to hear that Pradip-da, one of India’s Greatest Footballers, is no more. His contribution to Indian Football will never be forgotten. I share the grief.”
“He will stay synonymous with the golden generation of Indian Football. Pradip-da, you will remain alive in our hearts,” the AIFF President added.
Kushal Das, the General Secretary of the All India Football Federation said, “Mr. Pradip Kumar Banerjee will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been an inspiration to so many generations. May he Rest in Peace.”
“Post his retirement he scouted and coached a whole generation of Indian Footballers, both on the International, and domestic level. It’s a huge loss for Indian Football.”
As a mark of respect, the AIFF Flag is kept half-mast at the AIFF Headquarters -- the Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi.
India's iconic footballer Sunil Chhetri tweeted,"I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. PK Banerjee as well as to the entire Indian football fraternity. He was a pioneer in every sense of the word, and his achievements will forever have a place in Indian footballing history. Rest in peace."
I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. PK Banerjee as well as to the entire Indian football fraternity.— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) March 20, 2020
He was a pioneer in every sense of the word, and his achievements will forever have a place in Indian footballing history. Rest in peace.
Banerjee was also part of three consecutive editions of the Asian Games – the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, and the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, and holds the record of scoring maximum – six goals – in Asian Games for India.
Post his retirement, he took up coaching and stays as one of the most decorated and successful Indian trainers till date.
At the international level, he began his coaching career as the joint coach of the Indian team in the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, where India won a bronze medal.
He then went on to coach India in the 1974 Asian Games (in Tehran), 1982 Asian Games (New Delhi), and the 1986 Asian Games (in Seoul). He was also in charge as the coach in the Merdeka Cup in 1971, 1973, 1981, 1982, 1986; the Nehru Cup in 1982 (Kolkata), and 1986 (in Trivandrum); the Kings Cup in Bangkok in 1981; the SAF Games in 1985 (in Dhaka) where India finished champions; and India’s tour to UAE in 1981.
In addition, he was the joint-coach in the Pesta Sukan Cup in Singapore in 1971, and in India’s campaign in the 1972 Olympic Qualifiers in Rangoon (currently Yangon).
He also served as India’s Technical Director for the SAFF Cup in 1999 (Margao), where India won gold; the Olympic Qualifiers in 1999; and India’s tour of England in 2000.
As a player at the domestic level, he won the Santosh Trophy thrice each for Bengal (1955, 1958 and 1959), and Railways (1961, 1964, and 1966) scoring 28 goals. He also represented Bihar in 1952 and 1953.
At the club level, he scored 190 goals for Eastern Railways and one goal for Mohun Bagan (on loan in the Rovers Cup).
Banerjee began his coaching career at the club level in 1969 for Bata Football Club, a post he held till 1971.
He then coached both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, winning several trophies for both the famed Kolkata clubs. While for East Bengal he won 30 trophies, he ended up guiding Mohun Bagan to 23 trophies.
Among his many exploits, Banerjee will always be remembered for inspiring Indian clubs to superlative performances against reputed foreign sides. While at East Bengal, he guided the Red and Golds to defeat Pyongyang City Club (from DPR Korea) to win the IFA Shield in 1973, and beat Dok Ro Gang (also from DPR Korea) in win the DCM Trophy.
The 1978 IFA Shield Final, where Mohun Bagan drew 2-2 against Russian Club Ararat, which had several World Cuppers in their ranks, will always be remembered in the list of significant achievements in Indian Club Football’s history.
He was also Mohun Bagan’s coach, which held Cosmos (from USA) to a 2-2 draw at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, a match for which Pele had turned up for Cosmos.
He also served as a Technical Director for the Tata Football Academy from 1991-97.
(Image Credit: AIFF Website)