Former India football captain Carlton Chapman passes away

Chapman - an integral part of the Indian team from 1995 to 2001 - was among the last footballers from Karnataka to make a big impression on the international stage.

After his playing career, Carlton Chapman took up coaching. He worked with Royal Wahingdoh, Sudeva FC, Bhawanipore FC and other clubs.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Former Indian football team captain Carlton Chapman passed away here on Monday. Chapman complained of back pain in the early hours of Monday, and breathed his last a couple of hours later, his close friends stated. He was 49.

Chapman - an integral part of the Indian team from 1995 to 2001 - was among the last footballers from Karnataka to make a big impression on the international stage. A midfielder known for his speedy runs and clever assists, Chapman was the perfect foil for strikers.

Under his captaincy, the Indian team won the SAFF Championship trophy in Kathmandu (Nepal) in 1997. Chapman was part of the Indian team which won the SAF Games (1995) in Chennai, Nehru Cup (1997) in Kochi, and SAFF Championship (1999) in Margao.

He was an accomplished performer at the national club level as well. A precocious young talent, Chapman started his career at SAI Centre (Bengaluru), before moving to Tata Football Academy (TFA) in Jamshedpur in 1990. His big break came in 1993, when he joined East Bengal. Chapman made an instant impression, scoring a hat-trick in East Bengal’s 6-2 win over Iraq club Al-Zawra in the Asian Cup Winners' Cup.

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After two seasons with East Bengal, he signed for JCT Mills, where he played alongside Baichung Bhutia and I.M. Vijayan. The midfielder returned to East Bengal in 1998, and led the club to the prestigious National Football League (NFL) title in 2001.

After his playing career, Chapman took up coaching. He worked with Royal Wahingdoh, Sudeva FC, Bhawanipore FC and other clubs. Chapman was due to join Gokulam Kerala FC as the reserve team head coach in November.

Former teammate and close friend Vijayan stated that Chapman was a once-in-a-generation talent. “Chapman is one of the greatest footballers that India has seen. Krishanu Dey was the best midfielder from his generation, and Chapman was one of the best from our generation,” Vijayan said.

“Carlton was a great midfielder. I am probably the one who played the most with him as a striker. I played with him in JCT and FC Kochin. We won a lot - Durand Cup, Federation Cup etc. - together. He was a brilliant player; selfless on the field. I was very close to his family. I stayed at his Austin Town house in Bengaluru when I came over for India camps,” a heartbroken Vijayan said.

Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation, said, “It’s sad to hear that Carlton Chapman is no more. His contribution to Indian Football will never be forgotten. I share the grief.”

East Bengal club remembered one of its brightest stars Chapman as a player who contributed in a big way to its success. “We are deeply saddened by the passing away of Carlton Chapman. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Shree Cement managing director H.M. Bangur said.

Shree Cement now has the majority stake in East Bengal. "Chapman played for India between 1995 and 2001, leading the national team to the 1997 SAFF Cup victory. He had two successful spells with East Bengal and one with now-defunct JCT Mills at the club level.

"Chapman, who joined East Bengal in 1993, is best remembered for his hattrick in the team's 6-2 win over Iraq side Al Zawra in the Asian Cup Winners Cup. He returned to East Bengal in 1998 and helped the red and gold brigade win their maiden National Football League (NFL) title in 2001. He called time on his illustrious career in 2001," said a statement from the club remembering the outstanding midfielder.

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