Many former football stalwarts including Olympians Syed Shahid Hakim, O Chandrasekharan, Kanai Sarkar, and Sanath Sett passed away in 2021, leaving a void in Indian football.
One of the most prominent names in Indian football, Syed Shahid Hakim passed away in August. Popularly referred to as Hakim Saab, he was part of the Indian squad in the 1960 Olympics. He also supervised many matches in the AFC Asian Cup 1988 at Doha.
At the domestic level, he was part of the triumphant Services’ Santosh Trophy squad in 1960. He was also part of the squad from 1960/66. At the club level, he played for City College Old Boys (Hyderabad), and Indian Air Force.
A former assistant coach of the Indian national team, he also coached Mahindra and Mahindra in 1998-99 and guided them to win the Durand Cup in 1998. He also coached Salgaocar SC, Hindustan FC, and Bengal Mumbai Club.
After a prolonged illness, former India footballer O Chandrasekharan, popularly known as Olympian Chandrasekharan died at the age of 86 in Kochi. Chandrasekharan, who played as a defender, was a member of the Indian team in the 1960 Rome Olympics, the last time the country participated in football at the Games. India famously held France 1-1 in a game, courtesy of Chandrasekharan and his defensive partners. His death comes just days after SS Hakim, another one from that Olympics team, passed away.
Popular in Bengal football, Sarkar made his national team debut in September 1971, in a friendly match against the USSR, and was also a part of the Bengal team which went to Tehran to participate in the Asian Club Cup in 1970. Sarkar’s most glorious days came with the two giants of Kolkata football — East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Another former India goalkeeper Sanath Sett, who was part of the 1954 Asian Games squad, passed away last week after a prolonged illness. Sett, 91, was suffering from age-related problems and breathed his last on December 24 morning.
Known for his acrobatic saves under the bar, Sett began his journey at the Eastern Railway FC in 1949 before moving to Aryan Club in 1951. He then moved to East Bengal in 1957 and the next year joined their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, where he played for six years.
Former India goalkeeper SS Narayan, who was part of the team that played in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics; died in August. He represented the country in nine matches and was part of the two Olympics 1956 (Melbourne) and 1960 (Rome) squads. The former custodian was also a part of the India side that finished second in the 1964 AFC Asian Cup, and the 1958 Asian Games where India finished fourth.
Apart from these stalwarts, other footballers that left for the heavenly abode in 2021 are, Krishnaji Rao (CIL FC Mysore India), Asit Patra (Odisha), Nand Kishore Patnaik (Odisha), Shekhar Paddu Bangera (Orkay Mills, India), Frankie Pariat (Lajong FC, Meghalaya), Felix Barreto (Dempo), M Prasannan (Dempo), Dilip Kumar Mazumdar (Odisha), PV Ramakrishnan (Vasco, Kerala), Bishtu Brata Das (Odisha), Sabir Ali (Delhi, Northern Railways), KB Sharma (East Bengal), Anup Mukherjee (Odisha), Liston CA (Kerala Police).