Olympian footballer O. Chandrasekharan passes away

O. Chandrasekharan, a defender in one of India's finest football teams ever, passed away in Kochi on Tuesday. He was 86 and is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

O. Chandrasekharan was a member of the Indian team at the 1960 Rome Olympics.   -  The Hindu

O. Chandrasekharan, a defender in one of India's finest football teams ever, passed away in Kochi on Tuesday. He was 86 and is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Chandrasekharan was a member of the Indian team at the 1960 Rome Olympics. That was the last time India played football at the Olympics. He was also a star of the Indian team that won the gold at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, the country's last triumph at the Asiad.

Just before India's match against Hungary at the Rome Olympics, the Indian hockey players had a warning for the footballers.

“Don’t concede more than 10 goals, our hockey players told us, for Hungary was the European champion then,” Chandrasekharan had told this writer during a chat a few years ago.

But India surprised everybody by giving Hungary a scare, losing narrowly 1-2. It also held France 1-1 and then lost its last league match to Peru 1-3.

READ: Olympian and FIFA referee Syed Shahid Hakim passes away

Though India finished fourth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where Neville D'souza scored a hat-trick against host Australia, legendary coach S.A. Rahim felt that the 1960 team was the best.

“Our coach S.A. Rahim always used to say that the Rome team was the best he had coached. And it had around six players who had played in the 1956 Olympics but not Neville, he was not in form then,” Chandrasekharan, who played alongside Neville in Mumbai’s Caltex team at the WIFA Harwood League, had said then as he walked down memory lane.

Chandrasekharan who hailed from Irinjalakuda later moved to Mumbai and was also the captain of the Maharashtra team that won the Santosh Trophy in the sixties.

A jolly and friendly man, Chandrasekharan was with the State Bank of India and was its its zonal manager when he retired. He used to be an active walker at the Ernakulam Town Railway Station till about three years ago.

After S.S. Narayan and S.S. Hakim, who both played in the 1960 Rome Olympic team and passed away recently, the country has lost three of its finest football stars in the space of 20 days.

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