Chuni Goswami

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A brief biography

Nilesh Bhattacharya, May 1, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

Chuni Goswami: a factfile

If one personality in Indian sports has to be marked out, who had a painter’s eye for the football canvas and mixed his finicky perfectionism on the field with a playboy image off it during his playing career, Subimal ‘Chuni’ Goswami would stand out as that only one.

The legendary forward, who led the Indian football team to gold in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, breathed his last in Kolkata on Thursday, after a prolonged illness. He was 82 and is survived by wife and son Sudipto. “He was homebound for quite some time, suffering from various ailments. He passed away after following a cardiac arrest in the afternoon,” a family source said.

Just a month ago, another football legend Pradip Kumar Banerjee had passed away. The duo formed a mythical attacking triumvirate along with Tulsidas Balaram, who came to be known as “Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar” of Indian football. Balaram now remains the only surviving member of the trio.

Such was Chuni’s mastery on a football field that he reportedly drew interest from England’s Tottenham Hotspur. Yet, he remained a Mohun Bagan faithful, having played for them uninterrupted from 1954 to 1968, presiding over the club’s golden period in the 1960s. That he helped the green-and-maroons win 31 trophies while scoring 200 goals during this spell speaks volumes of his legend at the club.

Yet, the legend of Chuni could not be confined to football alone. He was a rare “all-rounder” in every sense of the term, who could have earned name and fame in any other sport. He played for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy for three seasons, leading the side in 1968-69. A first-class career consisting of one century, seven fifties and 47 wickets, he is still remembered for how he demolished the mighty West Indies in the 1960s, in a friendly first-class game.

Born on January 15 in 1938, Chuni was a nature athlete. He soon caught everyone’s eye thanks to his exceptional balance, dribbling skill and alacrity which eventually moulded him into a star striker in the 1950s and 60s.

No wonder it was a debut to perfection in Indian colour when he scored a goal against Burma in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo. Four years later, he established his legend, leading the national team to next Asian Games glory, which is still regarded as the country’s best performance on international stage.

It was during this time, his stardom reached extraordinary heights when he used to hobnob with the likes of tinsel stars Uttam Kumar, Dilip Kumar and who’s who of other fields. Yet, football was his predominant field where he created his magic and myth. One legend has it that, in 1967, a year before hanging up his boots as a professional footballer, he helped Mohun Bagan beat East Bengal with his strike in the second leg of the Calcutta Football League. That win also paved the way for Mohammedan Sporting’s march to the title.

When he went back home after the match, he saw several packets of biriyani sent to him by Mohammedan Sporting as a mark of gratitude.

“There would be no Pradip Kumar Banerjee in Indian football. There would be no Chuni Goswami In Indian football, either,” former India striker and renowned coach Subhas Bhowmick said.

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