Former Tamil Nadu football skipper passes away

Kalia Kulothungan, a key player for Tamil Nadu, East Bengal and Mumbai FC, passed away in a road accident in Vallam in the early hours of Saturday.

Former Tamil Nadu captain Kalia Kulothungan (left) with P. Thulasi.   -  S. Thanthoni

Former Tamil Nadu football team captain K. Kulothungan passed away in a road accident at Vallam in the early hours of Saturday.

Kulothungan, a native of Thanjavur, was riding a two-wheeler when his vehicle apparently collided with the railing of a road over-bridge in Vallam on the Tiruchi-Thanjavur Highway. He died on the spot, police said.

Kulothungan had attended the inaugural function of an inter-school five-a-side tournament at Olympian Kittu Memorial ground in Thanjavur on Friday evening. He is said to have remained at the ground till late in the night and was returning home after dropping a friend.

The 39-year-old led Tamil Nadu in the Santosh Trophy and played for clubs like East Bengal, Mumbai FC, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting. The midfielder was part of the East Bengal side that won the ASEAN Club Championship in 2003 and also won the I-League titles with the side in 2002-03 and 2003-04.

East Bengal remembers Kulothungan

The club for which K. Kulothungan got most of the laurels in his playing career, East Bengal, mourned the passing away of its former midfielder by flying the flag half-mast. East Bengal remembered the historic ASEAN Cup win where Kulothungan played a prominent role. “He (Kulothungan) was a member of the East Bengal team which won the LG Asean Club Cup at Jakarta in 2003. He scored seven goals for the club including one in the final of the Durand Cup 2002 against Army XI. He also won the NFL twice, the IFA Shield and the Calcutta Football league twice. The club conveys its condolences to his family,” said the statement from East Bengal.

One of Kulothungan’s midfield colleagues, Alvito D’Cunha, also expressed his grief at the untimely passing away of his one-time teammate. He was a fantastic player and showed remarkable poise and control. We all remember him as a player gifted with a remarkable ‘first touch’.” Alvito said. “I heard the sad news from another former player M. Suresh early in the morning. I was so shocked that by it that I took some time to gather my wits. Kulothungan is part of the best memories of my coaching career and his shocking death leaves a void that could never be fulfilled,” said Subhash Bhowmick, the present East Bengal coach who was also there when the team won the ASEAN Cup and the NFLs.

He was a part of the East Bengal team which won the ASEAN Club Championship in 2003. He also won back-to-back I-League titles in 2002-03, 2003-04 with the football giant. He played along with some prominent names of Indian football — Bhaichung Bhutia, Mike Okoro, Mutum Bijen Singh and Raman Vijayan.

In 2015-16, Kulothungan played for Chennai City FC in the CFA senior division league.

Tamil Nadu player D. Ravanan, who hails from a town nearby to that of the deceased footballer, said, “It is a big loss for us. I have known him for the last 18 years. I played for Tamil Nadu when he was the captain and he used to be very respectful towards the juniors in the side too.”

Post his playing career, Kulothungan, who had completed his ‘C’ licence coaching certification, was coaching at the school in Thanjavur and is survived by a wife and four children.

Many footballers and clubs paid their condolences through social media.

 

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