Surajit Sengupta, one of the finest forwards of his time, breathed his last after a battle with COVID-19, in a city hospital on Thursday. The former India footballer and a stalwart of the Kolkata giants — East Bengal and Mohun Bagan — was 71 and is survived by wife and son.

Surajit, who was admitted to the hospital after developing breathing problems on January 23, was soon put on a ventilator as his condition took a turn for the worse. With the State Government assuring all the support for his treatment, the star of the 70s failed to recover from the crisis.

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Surajit began his top-division club career with Bagan in 1972 but his fame as one of the most creative forwards of his time touched the peak after he joined East Bengal in 1974.

Hero of 1975 IFA shield final

His best came in the IFA Shield final in 1975 where he was one of the architects behind East Bengal’s 5-0 rout of Bagan. This is still the biggest margin of win in the history of the Kolkata derby.

In a club career spanning more than 12 years, Surajit won many trophies and titles, most of which came during his time with East Bengal where he spent the bulk of his playing days. He returned to Bagan in 1981 and spent three years there before hanging his boots.

The nimble-footed winger turned out in the National colours in 14 matches, eight of which were played in the Asian Games of 1974 (Tehran) and 1978 (Bangkok) where India failed to do much. He skippered Bengal in the 1976 Santosh Trophy campaign.