P K Banerjee

INDIAN football legend PK Banerjee, a prominent striker in the golden era of the country’s football history, passed away on Friday (20) after battling prolonged illness. He was 83.

Besides winning the gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games in 1992, Banerjee led India in the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he scored the equaliser against a formidable French team in a 1-1 draw.

Before that, Banerjee represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a key role in their 4-2 win over Australia in the quarterfinals.

Banerjee’s contribution to Indian football was duly recognised by the world governing body FIFA that awarded him the Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.

Born on June 23, 1936 in Moynaguri on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, Banerjee’s family relocated to his uncle’s place in Jamshedpur before partition.

He scored 65 international goals in 84 appearance for the national team.

Banerjee was also the most sought-after coach during 1970s.

Two Olympics (Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960), three Asian Games (58, 62, 66), gold medal as a player and bronze as a coach (1970 Bangkok) in his first big tournament, Banerjee’s credentials remain unmatched and are unlikely to be emulated.

“I don’t think anyone had more power in his shots as Pradeep and that kind of with the ball speed down the flanks. And add to it, terrific ability to read match situations,” his best friend and skipper of the 1962 Gold winning team Chuni Goswami had once said in an old interview.