1956 Olympics fourth-place finishing India defender Nandy dies

Nikhil Nandy, one of the first Indians to play as an ‘half-back’, passed away on Tuesday after battling COVID-19 and a prolonged illness.

The half-back of yesteryears was also a part of the Indian side that reached the semifinals of the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo.   -  TWITTER/INDIAN FOOTBALL TEAM

Nikhil Nandy, a prominent member of the 1956 Indian football team that finished a creditable fourth in the Olympics, is no more. Also regarded as one of the first names in the country to play as an ‘half-back,’ Nandy breathed his last on Tuesday afternoon after failing to recover from COVID-19 complications, according to his family. He was 88 and is survived by wife, a son and two daughters.

“He contracted COVID-19 in September and underwent treatment in a city hospital for around 45 days. He was not keeping well since returning from the hospital and his condition deteriorated recently as he stopped responding to treatment,” said his son Samir Nandy. 

Nikhil Nandy made his debut for India in the 1953 Asian Quadrangular Tournament in Burma (now Myanmar). He turned out for the National side in the same tournament in 1955 before travelling to Melbourne to participate in the Olympics in 1956.

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Nandy became a notable figure for his performance as a half-back, which was a position introduced by the celebrated Indian coach Syed Abdul Rahim. India made it to the semifinals in the Olympics and lost 4-1 against Yugoslavia but Nandy earned praise for his role as a good marker. Nandy was named the vice-captain of the Indian team that played in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games.

Nandy was a regular for Eastern Railway and was instrumental in bringing the legendary P.K. Banerjee to the side, which went on to become the Calcutta Football League champion in 1958 bettering the giants like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. He also part of the triumphant Bengal team which won the Santosh Trophy in 1953 and 1955.

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After hanging his boots, Nandy took to coaching and had a brief stint with the national team. He primarily devoted his time to grooming young footballers. He shunned coaching offers from the big clubs and used to regularly visit the football academy named after him.

He was there guiding the young footballers even before he took ill in September, informed Samir Nandy.

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