CHUNI Goswami, considered Indian soccer’s original superstar, passes away in his hometown aged 82

chuni Goswami_Sailen Manna

INDIAN footballing legend Subimal Goswami, known by his nickname Chuni Goswami,  former Indian international footballer, and first-class cricketer, passed away on April 30 at a private hospital in Kolkata.  He was 82. He had been suffering from several illnesses, including sugar, prostate, and nerve problems, for a long time. Born in Kishoreganj District now in Bangladesh, he had represented India as a striker in as many as 50 international matches. Indian football’s original superstar, who led India to the 1962 Asian Games gold, was also an excellent cricketer and captained Bengal after retiring from football. Arjuna and Padmashree awardee started international career in 1957, Goswami was the biggest star of the national team despite the presence of  Peter Thangaraj, Jarnail Singh, Tulsidas Balaram, PK Banerjee, and others. He hung up his boot as a footballer in 1968.  After retiring from soccer, he concentrated on cricket. In 1966, he was one of the two bowlers other being Test player Subroto Guha, who plotted the historic innings defeat of Gary Sobers’ West Indies by the combined Central and East Zone team under Hanumant Singh in Indore. Goswami took eight wickets with his gentle medium in-swingers. There were persistent demands for his inclusion in India’s Test squad. In 1971-72 season, he was made the Bengal captain. He took the team to the Ranji Trophy final before losing against Bombay at the Brabourne Stadium. Jaydeep Basu says  ‘’The Mohun Bagan star was forward par excellence. Extremely graceful, his dribbling skills made him a living legend. His extraordinary passing ability, amazing ball control, and quick body feints often left the defenders stunned. Goswami’s brilliant sense of position and capacity to unleash dazzling volleys from any spot in the penalty box. He was simply a delight to watch. Jarnail Singh once told  Jaydeep Basu  “We were a bunch of very good footballers. Chuni was different. He was an artist.” He always played for Mohun Bagan. While in college, he captained Calcutta University in both football and cricket in the same year. Under his captaincy, India won the gold medal in 1962 Asian Games, finished runners-up in 1964 Asian Cup, and narrowly lost to what was then Burma in Merdeka football six months later. He was a part of the junior squad up to 1953 and then graduated to the Mohun Bagan senior team in 1954. He continued playing for Mohun Bagan till his retirement in 1968. During his stay with the club, he captained the club in 5 seasons from 1960 to 1964. Goswami holds the distinction of leading his side Mohun Bagan to three successive Durand Cup triumphs and four successive Kolkata League wins. He holds the distinction of playing for a single club, Mohun Bagan, throughout his club career despite numerous offers from other clubs including one. Goswami made his debut in international football in 1956. He also played for India in Olympics. Asian Games Gold Medal in 1962 and a Silver in the 1964 Asia Cup in Tel Aviv. He also served as the captain of the Bengal Cricket team for a period of time, and successfully led the team to the final round of Ranji Trophy twice in his career. In his cricket career, which spanned up to 1972-73 season, he played 46 first-class matches, scoring 1592 runs and took 47 wickets. He received Arjuna Award in 1963 and Padma Shri in 1983. He was also adjudged as the Best Striker of Asia in 1962. Chuni Goswami received the “Mohun Bagan Ratna” Award in 2005. (edited by PK Chakravarty with inputs of National Club of India)

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