RIP P.K. Banerjee: From Chhetri to AIFF, tributes flow in for legend

P.K. Banerjee represented India in 36 official matches, wearing the captain’s armband in six of them. In the process, he scored 19 official goals for the country.

Former India footballer P.K. Banerjee   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Indian football mourned the passing away of the legendary player and coach P.K. Banerjee on Friday. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) led the tributes for the former national team captain, coach and technical director.

He represented India in 36 official matches, wearing the captain’s armband in six of them. In the process, he scored 19 official goals for the country.

READ | Obit: The incomparable P. K. of Indian football

Praful Patel, the president of the AIFF  in his message said: “It’s sad to hear that Pradip-da, one of India’s greatest footballers, is no more. His contribution to Indian Football will never be forgotten. I share the grief.”

“He will stay synonymous with the golden generation of Indian Football. Pradip-da, you will remain alive in our hearts,” he added.

Kushal Das, AIFF general secretary said: “Pradip Kumar Banerjee will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been an inspiration to so many generations. May he Rest in Peace.”

“Post his retirement he scouted and coached a whole generation of Indian Footballers, both on the international, and domestic level. It’s a huge loss for Indian football.”

As a mark of respect, the AIFF flag is kept half-mast at the AIFF headquarters -- the Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi.

Former India footballer Narayanswami Ulaganathan, who dazzled on the the field during the 1970s and 80s, recalled the great impact that the late P.K. Banerjee had on his career. "Whatever I am today is all thanks to P.K. Banerjee. He was my Indian team coach for the 1972 Olympics qualification round in Burma, and at the 1974 Asian Games. And of course, we spent many memorable seasons together at Mohun Bagan. Banerjee was a terrific tactical coach. He drew up great plans for each member of the team.

Just like him, I played the right-winger position. He passed on so many valuable tips to me - how to make runs, how to cut in, how to accelerate and so on. I tried to emulate him, and he developed a great fondness for me. After spending a few seasons at Bagan, I moved to East Bengal in 1976. It was Banerjee was coaxed and compelled me to return to Bagan in 1979. He was keen on fitness too. He used to skip ropes quite a lot - something I learnt from him. It was tremendously helpful for my fitness, so much so that I skip rope even today," Ulaganathan said.



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