India's Greatest! Football Will Always Remember Him: AIFF Leads Tributes for Chuni Goswami

Chuni Goswami (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Chuni Goswami (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Indian football mourned one of it's greatest heroes Subimal 'Chuni' Goswami, who passed away in Kolkata after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) condoles the death of former India captain Subimal Goswami, who was fondly referred to as Chuni Goswami by his vast legion of fans. Goswami breathed his last in Kolkata on Thursday, he was 82.

Goswami's biggest achievement was captaining India to the 1962 Asian Games Gold medal when India scripted a historic 2-1 victory against South Korea (Korea Republic) in the final to land India its second gold medal in Asian Games history.

Goswami made his International debut against Burma (now Myanmar) in the Asian Games in Tokyo in 1958. He even scored on debut as India rallied to win 3-2 on the day. He went on to represent India in 36 official International matches, captaining in 16 of them, and netting 13 goals.

Besides two editions of the Asian Games, Goswami was also part of India's Olympic squad in the Rome Olympics in 1960. He also captained India to the final of the AFC Asian Cup in Tel Aviv in 1964 and was part of India's campaign in the pre-Olympic qualification in 1959 (in Kabul), 1960 (in Kolkata and Jakarta), 1963 (in Colombo as captain), and in 1964 in (Tehran and Calcutta).

He also played in the Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1961, and 1964 (as captain).

Goswami won the Arjuna Award in 1963 and was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 1983.

Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation, in his message said: "It's sad to hear that Chuni-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. Chuni-da, you will remain alive in our hearts."

Kushal Das, the General Secretary of the All India Football Federation, said: "Chuni Goswami will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been an inspiration to so many generations. May his soul Rest in Peace."

"Indian Football will always remember him as the captain of the 1962 Asian Games gold medal-winning squad. He was a versatile sportsman, having also represented Bengal in the Ranji Trophy. It's a huge loss not just for Indian Football, but sports in India overall," he added.

At the domestic level, Goswami was part of the Bengal's triumphant Santosh Trophy squad thrice -- in 1955, 1958, and in 1959.

At the club level, he represented Mohun Bagan for 15 consecutive years -- from 1954 to 1968, and scored 200 goals for the Green and Maroons including 145 in the Calcutta Football League, 25 goals in the IFA Shield, 18 goals in the Durand Cup, 11 goals in the Rovers Cup and 1 goal in the Dr. HK Mookerjee Shield.

Over the years, he helped Bagan win the Calcutta Football League nine times, the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup five times each, the Rovers Cup thrice, the Dr. HK Mookerjee Shield five times, Babu Kuer Singh Shield thrice, and the Ananda Bazar Centenary Trophy once. He won 14 trophies for Mohun Bagan as captain.

The versatile sportsman that he was, he also represented Bengal in the Ranji Trophy and even captained Bengal in 1968-69 season. He also played for East Zone in the Duleep Trophy. His first-class career as a cricketer ended after 46 matches and he scored 1,592 runs, including a century.

He also served the Tata Football Academy as its director and was appointed the Sheriff of Kolkata in 2005. In the same year, he was awarded the Mohun Bagan Ratna and was bestowed the Banga Bibhusan in 2013.

The Indian postal department also honoured Goswami with a commemorative stamp on his 82nd birthday earlier this year.

"It is a very sad day for Indian football. Indian football has lost a genius. He wad no doubt one of the greatest ever Indian footballer. He and PK Banerjee were the biggest players we had known in our playing days," said Vijayan.

Bhaichung Bhutia called him the first superstar of Indian football.

"It's a big loss for Indian football in two-three months. First PK Banerjee (who died on March 20) and now Chuni Goswami. He was a true sporting icon. He was the first superstar of Indian football.

"I have not had so much interaction with Chuni da but I met him a couple of times when I played for Mohun Bagan. He was a through gentleman. Sadly he was not too much involved with Indian football even during my time. He would visit the Mohun Bagan once in a while," he said.

Current India captain Chhetri also spoke glowingly of Goswami.

"We've lost one of the leading lights of Indian sport today. Not too many can boast of being top-notch in two different sports. You played your part to the fullest, rest well, Chuni sir. Strength to the family," he said.

His former teammate Tulsidas Balaram said he felt shattered by the loss of a dear friend.

"I am really shocked. First PK Banerjee and now Chuni is gone. We were very, very good friends. We had mutual respect for each other. I have so many fond memories. I'm really not in a frame of mind to speak further," an emotional Balaram, who formed the 'Indian holy trinity' with Banerjee and Goswami during their Asian Games triumph, told PTI.

Former cricketer Dilip Doshi, who played under Goswami in the Bengal team, said he learnt a lot from the versatile athlete.

"He was India's all-round sportsman and much to learn from in fitness and fighting spirit. I had the privilege to play with him for a few years when I made my debut for Bengal," he said.

"His will to fight the issue out was infectious...He had a great sense of humour which he timely applied to release the tension in the dressing room.

"India is poorer without such stalwarts and icons of sport...Well played Chuni Da, we take a bow and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family," he added.

An emotional tribute also came in from Cricket Association of Bengal.

"This is actually a monumental loss for the sporting fraternity... leadership qualities as well as his amiable character easily endeared him to all of us," the CAB said.

"The Flag of the Association would be flown at half mast tomorrow as a mark of respect to this legendary figure," it added.

"Today is a truly depressing day. First Rishi (Kapoor) and now Chuni da have left us. Both champions and legends in their craft. The world will be the poorer for their departure to the Heavens. RIP," said cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar.

The BCCI too paid its tribute to Goswami, who represented Bengal in 46 games between 1962 and 1973, after a stellar run on the football field. He was an all-rounder.

"BCCI mourns the death of Subimal 'Chuni' Goswami, an all-rounder in the truest sense," the BCCI tweeted.