Generous in his blessings

Ruud Gullit is presented with a 'Radha-Krishna' statuette during his Kolkata visit.-PTI

Two of the three I-League clubs from Kolkata — Prayag United SC and Mohun Bagan — sought the propitious touch of one of the luminaries of world football to start their new season. The result: Gullit was seen launching the jerseys of both the clubs at different venues on the same day.

The contest between the clubs was won by United SC, as Gullit’s graced its function early in the morning. The Dutch player, despite struggling to appreciate the significance of a porcelain Radha-Krishna statuette gifted to him, was generous with his ‘blessings’ for United SC, hoping for a successful season ahead.

Later in the evening, celebrating the ‘Mohun Bagan Day’, Gullit towered, both literally and figuratively, above the country’s own former international stars like Chuni Goswami and P. K. Banerjee. As the club accorded its highest order of merit (Mohun Bagan Ratna) posthumously to its great defender of the 60s, Jarnail Singh, Gullit was seen relishing “the popularity football has in the country”.

After he had launched the newly designed Mohun Bagan jersey, Gullit was all praise for the club’s rich football history. “It feels nice to know that football could become a symbol of revolt against the repression of the English,” he said, acknowledging Mohun Bagan’s famed IFA Shield triumph over the British East York Regiment, which happened on July 29, 1911.

Amitabha Das Sharma