Former Indian football star PK Banerjee dies at 83

PK Banerjee – The News Mill
PK Banerjee (centre) during his playing days. (Twitter)

Former India captain Pradip Kumar Banerjee, who led the country in many football tournaments and two-time Olympian, died in Kolkata on March 20.

PK Banerjee, 83, had been struggling with ill health for a while. He also had a history of Parkinson’s disease, dementia and heart problem.

Banerjee is survived by his daughters Paula and Purna, who are renowned academicians, and younger brother Prasun Banerjee, also a former international footballer and sitting Trinamool Congress MP.

A well regarded coach PK Banerjee also led East Bengal for seven consecutive Calcutta League championships in the 70s, had been revered figure in Indian football, All India Football Federation condoled his death.

Banerjee captained the national team in what is considered its golden period. He won the gold medal in the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

A striker par excellence, Banerjee was a proven leader both as a player as well as a coach.

He was involved as a player and coach with both the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

He was on life support at a hospital here since March 2 and breathed his last at 12:40pm, according to a family member.

He was admitted to a private hospital in the city.

Born on June 23, 1936 in Moynaguri on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, Banerjee’s family relocated to his uncle’s place in Jamshedpur before partition.

He scored 65 international goals in 84 appearances for the national team and had been football commentator and knew more than four languages fluently.

Besides winning the gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games in 1992, Banerjee led India in the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he scored the equaliser against a formidable French team in a 1-1 draw.

Before that, Banerjee represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a key role in their 4-2 win over Australia in the quarterfinals.

Banerjee’s contribution to Indian football was duly recognised by the world governing body FIFA that awarded him the Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.

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