1962 Asian Games gold medallist D. Ethiraj dies at 87

The centre-forward was part of the Chuni Goswami-led Indian side that beat Korea Republic 2-1 in the final in Jakarta. That remains India’s last success in football at the Asiad.

Ethiraj represented the Services in the Santosh Trophy from 1958 to 1962.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Former India football player and member of the 1962 Asian Games gold medal-winning team D. Ethiraj passed away in Bengaluru on Friday. He was 87.

The centre-forward was part of the Chuni Goswami-led Indian side that beat Korea Republic 2-1 in the final in Jakarta. That remains India’s last success in football at the Asiad. The period from 1951 to 1962 is remembered as the golden era of Indian football, when under the tutelage of Syed Abdul Rahim, India was ranked among the best in Asia.

Ethiraj represented the Services in the Santosh Trophy from 1958 to 1962. His five goals were instrumental in the side's maiden Santosh Trophy triumph in 1960-61 in which it beat defending champion Bengal in the final.

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From 1962 to 1965 he played for the erstwhile Mysore state, and led the team in the 1965 edition in Quilon (Kollam), Kerala.

In Bengaluru, where he hailed from, he was best known for his stint with MEG & Center from 1957 to 1963, shepherding the side to the George Hoover Cup Championship, the city’s top-division.

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With Ethiraj in the team, MEG finished a worthy finalist in the prestigious Delhi Cloth Mills (DCM) Trophy invitational football tournament, that used to see participation from foreign teams, in 1959. Back in his heyday, MEG even named a stadium in his honour within its premises.

Ethiraj later donned the roles of a State selector and coach.

“It’s sad to hear that DM Ethiraj is no more. He was one of the members of the golden generation of Indian Football. I share the grief,” Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation, said in a message. The KSFA and BDFA condoled his death.

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