Kolkata comes together to pay last respects to Amal Dutta

Hundreds of football aficionados from across the state came to pay their last respects to the coach who revolutionised coaching methods introducing many unknown facets of modern football in a career spanning more than five decades.

People gather to pay their last respects to Amal Dutta who died on Sunday after age-related illness.   -  PTI

Amal Dutta in his death unified the football fraternity of the city, which has so long debated his methods which he as the first professional coach, tried to introduce in the sport. Dutta, aged 86, breathed his last on Sunday evening after losing a battle against Alzheimer’s disease.

Hundreds of football aficionados from across the state came to pay their last respects to the coach who revolutionised coaching methods introducing many unknown facets of modern football in a career spanning more than five decades.

“I regard him as the most knowledgeable and astute coach I have ever seen. It is sad that his peers and many of the players he coached could not evaluate the immenseness of his knowledge and ability,” said former international and the football secretary of Mohun Bagan, Satyajit Chatterjee.

Dutta turned to coaching quite early in his life after having played as a midfielder with considerable success for teams like East Bengal. He also had short stint with the national team representing India in the 1954 Manila Asian Games.

At a time when most of the coaches in the country were rooted in traditional methods, Dutta travelled to England to secure an FA coaching licence. “It is a mystery why he never received the Dronacharya Award, maybe, because he never aspired for an official recognition. But there are countless players for whom he was the real Dronacahrya,” said another former international Surojit Sengupta.

Dutta, who introduced the now-famous innovation ‘Diamond System’ as a rip-off of a Dutch style of playing, rose to the peak of his popularity in the 1990s. Dutta, as the coach of Mohun Bagan and with his experimental styles, started a spectacular rivalry with another legendary player and coach P.K. Banerjee.

“He was a true fighter and that was reflected as much in his coaching methods as in his life. I am greatly saddened by his death,” P.K. Banerjee had all the good words for his friend and professional rival.

Dutta also had a brief coaching stint with the Indian team, which went on to win the SAF Games football crown in 1987 under him. He later became the technical director of the Indian team for the Nehru Cup in 1988.

Another legendary footballer from the city Chuni Goswami heaped praises on Dutta saying that his innovative thinking spoke a lot about his depth of knowledge with which he introduced a lot of new ideas in Indian football. “His passing away fills me with grief. He is the one who introduced modern football techniques in the sport in our country,” Goswami said.

Apart from Goswami, scores of present and former footballers came to pay their last respects to Dutta, whose body was kept at Rabindra Sadan for the public to offer their tributes.

Dutta was cremated in the evening with full state honours. Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee called Dutta a true legend and said that her government will consider immortalising him by naming a stadium or a street in the city after him.