'Asian Pele' P. Kannan suffers stroke, admitted to hospital

Former India footballer P. Kannan, 78, suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata on Sunday.

P. Kannan has played for 13 long years in Kolkata -- ten years with Mohun Bagan, and a year each with East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Howrah Union.   -  P.V. Sivakumar

Former India footballer P. Kannan, 78, suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata on Sunday.

Popularly known as the ‘Asian Pele’ in the India football fraternity, Kannan made 14 appearances for the national team.

“A member of the support staff of the 1974 World Cup-winning West Germany team had come to India as part of his Asia tour after the World Cup. He was mighty impressed with Kannan. He said he’s the most talented footballer he’d seen yet on the tour. He had already been to around ten Asian countries then. So, he called him the Asian Pele and that tag has stuck with him ever since,” Kannan’s long-time friend and former team-mate, C.N. Moorthy, said.

Kannan was born in Vandavasi and has played football in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai.

READ: Brazil football legend Pele discharged from hospital

He has played for 13 long years in Kolkata -- ten years with Mohun Bagan, and a year each with East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Howrah Union. “He had gone there around 1967. He had even visited Chennai with Howrah Union for a National level tournament,” Moorthy added.

After Kannan had moved to Chennai, Moorthy  made him play for his club Universal RC in the Chennai Football Association (CFA) senior division football league. Moorthy had been the manager (he also played) of the club then.

Kannan played for the club for four years. He also played for Karnataka and Bengal in the Santosh trophy. “He’s also well known as ‘Bengal’ Kannan,” said Moorthy.

Now, with Kannan admitted to the hospital, the family, it has been learned, is facing financial constraints.