Football

Legendary Indian footballer P.K. Banerjee passes away

P.K. Banerjee. 1936-2020

P.K. Banerjee. 1936-2020   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

An attacking forward in his heyday, he also enriched the sport as a coach.

Two-time Olympian Pradip Kumar 'PK' Banerjee, one of the greatest footballers of the country, passed away here on Friday afternoon following prolonged illness. He was 83 and is survived by his two daughters Paula and Pixi and brother Prasun, a former India football captain and a current Member of Parliament.

PK was ‘suffering from sepsis and multi-organ failure due to pneumonia with a background of Parkinson’s disease, dementia and heart problems’ and had been on life support at a city hospital since March 7.

Also read: P.K. Banerjee remains critical, says his family

Born on June 23, 1936 in Jalpaiguri, PK shifted to Jamshedpur at an early age and shone as a teenager while representing Bihar in the Santosh Trophy. An attacking player, he turned out for Aryan Club and Eastern Railway, netting more than 190 goals, before hanging up his boots in 1967. 

PK, who represented India in 36 official matches and sported the captain’s armband in six of them, scored 19 goals for the country. 

Debuting with a bang

PK made his international debut on December 18, 1955, against Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the Quadrangular Cup in Dhaka. He scored five goals, the maximum by an Indian in his debut tournament, in the country’s title triumph.

He was part of three consecutive Asian Games — 1958 (Tokyo), 1962 (Jakarta, where India won gold) and 1966 (Bangkok) — and holds the record of scoring maximum number of goals (six) for India.

He represented the country in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarterfinals. India eventually finished fourth. PK captained the National side in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France in a 1-1 draw.

At the domestic level, he won the Santosh Trophy thrice each for Bengal (1955, 1958 and 1959) and Railways (1961, 1964 and 1966). 

Awards galore

PK was the first footballer to receive the Arjuna Award in 1961 and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990. He was bestowed with the FIFA Fairplay Award in 1990 and the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.

PK coached India in four editions of the Asian Games (including the 1970 Bangkok Asiad where the team won bronze), five Merdeka Cups, two editions of the Nehru Cup and other international tournaments.

 

As a coach at the club level, he won 30 trophies for East Bengal and 23 for Mohun Bagan. He was Bagan’s coach when it held Cosmos (USA), that had the legendary Pele in the ranks, to a 2-2 draw.

PK also served as a Technical Director for the Tata Football Academy from 1991-97 and was a noted commentator. 

As a mark of respect, the AIFF kept its flag half-mast at its headquarters in Delhi. Its president Praful Patel said, “he will stay synonymous with the golden generation of Indian football. Pradip-da, you will remain alive in our hearts.” 

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted “...a legendary figure in the world of Football in India. It’s a massive loss for the nation’s footballing fraternity. I pay my heartfelt tributes to the departed soul.”

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:28:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/indian-football-legend-pk-banerjee-dies-aged-83/article31116839.ece

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