PK Banerjee
PK Banerjee

His contribution was duly recognised by FIFA which rated him as India's greatest player of the 20th century, bestowing him with the Centennial Order of Merit in 2004

"Chakri charle khabo ki (What will I eat, if I quit)," was Banerjee's famous answer to not playing for the 'Big Two'

PK Banerjee, a footballing colossus of his time and a raconteur for life, died here on Friday aged 83, having dribbled and dazzled for a good part of his mind-boggling 51 years of service to the game. He was suffering from respiratory problems due to pneumonia and had an underlying history of Parkinson's disease, dementia and heart problem. Banerjee, who was on life support at a hospital here since March 2, breathed his last at 12:40pm.

In the final of the 1962 Asiad, India prevailed in front of a hostile crowd angered by chef de mission Guru Dutt Sondhi's remark that it was 'Jakarta Games', for barring countries like Taiwan and Israel. Banerjee scored the opener in that game. He was captain of the Indian team that last played the Olympics in Rome 1960. He retired as a player in 1967 after being laid low by recurring injuries. But then went on accumulate a staggering 54 trophies as a coach.

PK MILESTONES

After retirement, PK took to coaching and became the most successful coach of his times. Under him, East Bengal won four of their six consecutive Calcutta Football League titles during 1970-75. As the coach of Mohun Bagan, he presided over the club’s treble — IFA Shield, Durand Cup and Rovers Cup — in 1977 apart from belting a 2-2 draw against Pele’s Cosmos.

Also Banerjee and GM Basha coached Syed Nayeemuddin-led Indian team to the 1970 Asian Games bronze in Bangkok. PK's coaching USP was his “vocal tonic”.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s founding father, was such a huge fan of PK that he had once offered Malaysian citizenship to him.PK was one of the first recipients of Arjuna Award in 1961. Padma Shri had been conferred in 1990. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) nominated him as the Indian footballer of the 20th century. The FIFA Order of Merit came in 2004.

Though India crashed out of the competition after losing to Yugoslavia in the semifinal and Bulgaria in the third-place tie, the 1956 Olympics performance will remains the benchmark.The 1956 Melbourne Olympics was where the Indian football found the ‘holy Trimurti’ — PK, Chuni Goswami and Tulsidas Balaram.

The 1960 Olympics saw PK’s stardom grow manifold. He scored a goal against France in a 1-1 draw.The 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta was the highest point in PK’s career as a player. India went on to win the football gold under Chuni Goswami’s leadership.

Tribute

Character who carried essence of Kolkata Maidan

He could pack a punch in 35 yard pile drivers as a player, mix emotional quotient in tactical moves, and regale any audience with unheard stories. PK Banerjee will forever remain more than a sum total of his parts in Indian football's golden folklore.PK was not just a player but a character who epitomised everything that Bengalis loved over the years.

Good football, great stories and everlasting bond.

Kabir Suman, the man who brought about a renessaince in Bengali music in the early 90s, through his unforgettable number 'Ei Shohor Jane Amar Prothom Sobkichu' (This city knows my every firsts) had a couple of lines appropriate for a player of such calibre.

Played one of my biggest matches under Banerjee: Bhutia

considers himself fortunate to have played under the tutelage of P K recalled how the iconic footballer-turned-coach had a huge role to play in one of his most memorable performances. Bhutia endured racist taunts from Mohun Bagan coach Amal Dutta, ahead of the derby match, but Banerjee "soaked up all the pressure and ensured that the boys remain unaffected."

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