Kolkata: Iconic former India footballer Chuni Goswami died here Thursday after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. He was 82. Goswami captained the 1962 Asian Games gold-winning football team and also played first-class cricket. He was a playing member of the Bengal team that reached the finals of the Ranji Trophy twice.
The sports veteran breathed his last at a hospital here. He is survived by his wife Basanti and son Sudipto. “He suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the hospital at around 5.00pm,” a family source said. Goswami was also battling underlying ailments, including sugar, and prostrate and nerve problems.
Goswami was born in 1938 Kishoreganj district (now a part of Bangladesh). His actual name was Subimal but was best known by his nickname. He played 50 international matches between 1956 and 1964, including the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Goswami was also a member of the silver-winning team in the 1964 Asia Cup in Israel. Till date it is the best performance India have put up in the tournament.
As a cricketer, he represented Bengal in 46 first-class games between 1962 and 1973.
The deadly trio
Goswami, PK Banerjee, who also died recently, and Tulsidas Balaram formed a deadly forward-line during the ‘Golden Era’ of Indian football. Then India were considered one of the powerhouses of Asian football. Goswami won the Best Striker of Asia Award in 1962.
Awards Goswami received
For his service to Indian football, Goswami was conferred with Arjuna Award (1963) and Padma Shri (1983).
The Indian Postal Department issued a commemorative stamp on his 82nd birthday in January this year. It was in recognition for his contribution to football in India.
Goswami played for a single club, Mohun Bagan, throughout his career before his retirement in 1968. He captained the club in five seasons from 1960 to 1964. He was conferred with Mohun Bagan Ratna in 2005.
Goswami was also a very good tennis player at the state level. He finished among the top three in the Bengal championships on a number of occasions.
Did not prefer coaching
A great follower of the game, Goswami always had tips for the promising newcomer. However, he did not like coachi. Goswami said coach was too much of a stress at an age he wanted to relax. Goswami was also the ‘sports advisor’ to the West Bengal government for a number of years.
It is indeed cruel that the man who became synonymous will not be able to visit Mohun Bagan for one last time. Or for that matter his favourite destination after Mohun Bagan, the South Club here. In the latter part of his life, Goswami used to play tennis to keep in shape. He did so till a couple of years back till his knees turned rickety.
The man is gone, but his deeds will live on… no doubt about that.