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In Memoriam: Chuni Goswami

Chuni Goswami (1938-2020)
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

Indian football legend, Chuni Goswami, passed away in Kolkata following a prolonged illness. He was 82.

One Club Man

Born as Subimal Goswami, “Chuni” was associated with Mohun Bagan since the age of eight – the striker played for the senior team from 1954 until his retirement in 1968. He also captained the team for five seasons.

The inside forward, known for his dribbling abilities, made his Mohun Bagan debut at the age of 16 against Eastern Railway in 1954. Chuni would score on debut in a 3-0 victory.

He went on to win eight Calcutta League titles with Mohun Bagan, three Rovers Cup victories, and six IFA Shields.

He made his debut for Bengal in the Santosh Trophy at the age of 17. Bengal beat Mysore in the finals to lift the trophy in 1955. This was the first of the four Santosh Trophy wins for Chuni with the Bengal team.

1962, Jakarta and beyond

It was with the national team that Chuni made his name. He featured in 50 matches for the Indian National Team between 1956 and 1964.

His national debut came against China in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where India finished fourth – losing to Bulgaria in the bronze medal match.

It was at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta that he made a mark in India football history. Having taken over the mantle of captain, the Indian football team won the gold medal.

The campaign did not start well for India. Having lost the opener 0-2 against South Korea, the Indian contingent registered a 2-0 win over Japan. A 4-1 win over Thailand in the final group match booked a semifinal berth.

Chuni bagged a brace in the semifinals against South Vietnam as India ran out 3-2 winners.

The finals against South Korea saw PK Banerjee and Jarnail Singh on the scoresheet as India beat South Korea 2-1 to emulate Syed Abdul Rahim’s 1951 Asian Games gold medal winners.

In 1964, he led India to second place in the Tel Aviv Asia Cup. Four months later, India narrowly lost to Burma in the finals of the Merdeka Cup. Chuni scored three goals in the tournament.

President Giani Zail Singh confers the Padma Shri to Chuni Goswami in April 1983.
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

Chuni, the All-Rounder

One of the biggest stars of the national team, Chuni quit international football in 1964 at the age of 27.

Post-retirement, he focused on his cricket as he represented Bengal in first-class cricket tournaments. 

Success followed him in the cricket field as he captained Bengal to the finals of 71/72 Ranji Trophy where they lost to Bombay at the Brabourne Stadium. He retired the following season.

Post-retirement he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1983. In the late 80s, he had taken up the post of the director of the Tata Football Academy.

One club man and arguably the greatest player in Indian football. May his soul rest in peace.

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