Once a darling of Jose Ramirez Barreto and Yusif Yakubu and a pivotal figure in Mahindra United's National Football League triumph in 2005-06, former India forward Surojit Bose is now battling with blood cancer.
Bose played behind ace strikers Brazilian Barreto and Ghanian Yukubu -- two of the most accomplished foreign forwards to have played in India -- and set up a lot of goals for them during Mahindra United's title winning season just before the inception of the I-League.
The 33-year-old, who is admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, also plied his trade for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata and was last seen in Bharat FC colours in the I-League in 2014.
"I have been diagnosed with first stage of blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML)," Bose told IANS on Tuesday.
"I was admitted on August 7. I am recovering but it was a manic few days for me since I came to Delhi. I have been fortunate to get help from my former teammates and a few football fora," said the footballer.
Bose, a resident of Kalyani district in West Bengal, was working as a coach for a football development centre in Pune when he fell sick.
"I was having high fever, and I could not defecate properly. Yet I came to Delhi for some work and on August 6, my condition worsened. I was all alone in a guest house. I had some of my students who helped me get in touch with my family and also brought me to the hospital," said Bose, who had won the Federation Cup with Mohun Bagan.
"I got in touch with Dr Abhijit Kumar and he has been there with me like a guardian. They say doctors are like God and in my case it is true," said an emotional Bose from his hospital bed.
A players' forum involving former and current India footballers, 'Players for Humanity' is supporting Bose's treatment through financial assistance as is Delhi Mariners, another Mohun Bagan supporters' association.
"I was not paid for three months by my employers in Pune. This Covid-19 crisis has made matters worse," said Bose, whose wife stays in Kalyani.
"It is a financial drain for me I know, but really I would not be talking to you today had it not been for people like my former players and friends who have been like a rock, and then doctor Abhijit Kumar..." said Bose, failing to control his emotions.
Veteran coach and former India striker Subhash Bhowmick is one of the many former greats who call Bose everyday to check on him.
"I feel blessed. My Mahindra United teammates too call me and ask me if I need anything. I have to fight this battle for me and for them," he signed off.