Chuni Goswami an artist par excellence, says former teammate Hakim

An Indian football team without him between 1958 and ’65 was almost unthinkable because he was such a genius, former Olympian S. S. Hakim said about his teammate.

Goswami, who had been admitted to a Kolkata hospital earlier in the day, died at around 5pm after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 82.   -  Shanker Chakravarty

Chuni Goswami was an artist par excellence and was capable of swapping the flanks with remarkable ease. An Indian football team without him between 1958 and ’65 was almost unthinkable because he was such a genius, former Olympian S. S. Hakim said about his teammate, who died on Thursday.

Goswami, who had been admitted to a Kolkata hospital earlier in the day, died at around 5pm after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 82.

“I vividly remember he played the best against France in the 1960 Games. India may not see such great footballers. They were all passionate about the game, simple, humble and gentlemen to the core, who put national pride ahead of anything else,” Hakim told Sportstar.

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“You are all seeing how great is Lionel Messi is now. We all saw Chuni similar to Messi in those days and on his day was just unstoppable,” said Hakim, the son of legendary coach S. A. Rahim.

“I also remember when the Tata Football Academy was formed, Chuni called me to take charge, but I couldn’t for some reason. Then he looked to the great Mohd Habib (also from Hyderabad). He had so much of confidence and respect for the Hyderabadis,” Hakim said.

READ| India's football legend Chuni Goswami passes away

“I met Chuni only a few months ago when I was in Kolkata and forcibly brought him out of his home as he was not well for the shooting of Maidaan, which is on my father’s contribution to Indian football. No doubt, it was a sorry sight to see such a great footballer who was also my fellow commentator for Star Sports for some time,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to appeal to the union sports ministry to decide a decent pension to all those living Olympians like the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) gives it to the cricketers so that the minimum medical expenses they have to incur will be taken care off,” the former Olympian said.

Telangana Football Association expressed condolences to the bereaved family members of former Olympian Chuni Goswami, who passed away in Kolkata on Thursday.

"The football fraternity lost a champion footballer who was selfless on the field and off it too and his contribution to Indian football is unforgettable," TFA president Mohd Rafat Ali and the Secretary G.Palguna said in a statement.

"He always encouraged young talent and was a leader of men during Indian football's golden era," Palguna said.

Great loss

Former India football captain Victor Amalraj also condoled the death of Goswami. Recalling that he played for India when Goswami was the manager in Mauritius, Amalraj said after India lost the first game of the three-match series, the great Indian footballer never chided the team but had words of encouragement. "Inspired by those simple words of wisdom, we went on to win the next two and he was an immensely happy man in the end," Amalraj said.

"Well, Goswami belonged to the golden era and was an inspirational footballer. The formidable trio of Goswami, PK Banerjee and T. Balaram could test the best of the defences in those days," he said. "It is a great loss to Indian football," he concluded.

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