On 30 April 2020 within few hours, two famous Indian personalities who entertained us – one through football and cricket and another one through film passed away. Since I have already paid my tribute through my publication to Rishi Kapoor so in this article few lines about great footballer, who was one of the architects to take Indian football at the zenith, is presented. He was also a well-known cricketer and popularly known as ‘Chuni’ Goswami. Although his birth name was Subimal Goswami (15 January 1938 – 30 April 2020), but commonly Indians know him as ‘Chuni’ Goswami. As a footballer he played in the forward position as we know goalkeeper, defence and forward are normally three positions played in football and all are having equal importance in the game. Chuni captained both the Mohun Bagan Football club and the Indian National Team. He was an Olympian, representing India national team at the 1960 Summer Olympics. He also led Indian team to attain gold medal in 1962 Asian Games and in 1964 Indian team was the runners-up at AFC Asian Cup. It is worthy to mention that great football icons P.K. Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Tulsidas Balaram were part of famous Indian forward line which scored nine out of 11 goals in the Asian Games that fetched gold medal to us. Anyway, it is sad to mention that P.K. Banerjee passed away one month before Goswami’s death.
A Brief History of Cricket Icon Chuni Goswami
Chuni Goswami as footballer joined the Mohun Bagan Junior Team in 1946 at the age of 8 years. He was a part of the junior squad up to 1954 and then graduated to the Mohun Bagan senior team.
According to frontline.thehindu.com, Chuni made his debut in the national side “at the age of 19, when he was selected for India’s tour to the Far East. In 1958, he played in the Tokyo Asian Games, and in 1959, in the Merdeka Tournament”. He was last seen for the national team in 1984 at the age of only 27 years. He was brilliant cricketer also. In 1971-72, Goswami led Bengal team to the Ranji Trophy (in Ranji cricket, Bengal is mentioned not West Bengal) and reached in the final but lost against Bombay.
Chuni Goswami was awarded with many laurels, inter alia of which are – 1962 Best Striker of Asia Award, 1963 Arjuna award, 1983 Padma Shri and in 2005 Mohun Bagan Ratna. He enthralled spectators through his football skill. Indian football expert and commentator Novy Kapadia wrote in his book “Barefoot to Boots: The Many Lives of Indian Football”, “Goswami belonged to a golden period for the Mariners (a fond nickname for the club given by the fans) in the 1960s, where he was part of a squad that also included the likes of Jarnail Singh and T.A Rahman in defence, centre-forward Ashok Chatterjee and goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj”. But what made Goswami different? As a player he was renowned for his entertaining football. “His superb speed with the ball, excellent trapping and shrewd passing had made him a household name, but it was his dazzling dribbling and body swerves that ultimately set him apart from the other greats of his era,” as mentioned by Kapadia (www.livemint.com).
Chuni Goswami was popular among all sections of people because of his amicable nature. Plethora of condolences was poured after his death. The Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee expressed her condolences; State Sports Minister Arup Biswas visited the hospital and paid his last respect to the departed soul. The many leading personalities sent condolence messages and few are – the Indian football icons Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung, Bhutia, boxer Vijender Singh, Indian news anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, cine personality Boney Kapoor, cine artiste Rituparna Sengupta and many others. BCCI in their condolence message, mentioned “Subimal ‘Chuni’ Goswami, an all-rounder in the truest sense. He captained the Indian national football team & led to them to gold in the 1962 Asian Games. He later played first-class cricket for Bengal & guided them to the final of Ranji Trophy in 1971-72”
Chuni Goswami is survived by his wife Basanti and son Sudipto. And millions of sports lover will remember him for his splendid performance in football and cricket.
I am as a sportsperson is deeply saddened for his death and pray almighty May His Soul of Rest in Peace
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)
NIRD &PR (Govt. of India),
The following websites were consulted for writing the article.