Subimal ‘Chuni’ Goswami, one of the greatest Indian footballers of all time, breathed his last on Thursday, in a Kolkata hospital. He was 82 at the time of his death.
He was born on January 15, 1938, in Kishoreganj district of Bengal (now in Bangladesh). From a tender age, Goswami had an inclination towards sports.
He was spotted by a former Mohun Bagan player Balaidas Chatterjee while playing in South Kolkata’s Deshapriya Park. He was offered to join Mohun Bagan’s youth setup in 1946 and he did so at the age of eight. He remained a one-club man till the final days of his playing career. He made his senior debut for the Green and Maroons in 1954 and went to play till 1968.
Even though he played for arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, East Bengal fans regarded him highly. The famous East Bengal official Jyotish Chandra Guha had once offered Goswami a FIAT car (something the player was fond of) as a token to play for East Bengal for at least a season, but he had politely rejected the offer as he feared that it might anger his mentor Balai Chatterjee.
The legendary was also a distinguished member of the Indian team during the ‘Golden Era’ of Indian football and had led the national team at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta where India won the gold medal.
Along with Tulsidas Balaram and Pradip Kumar Banerjee who also passed away just over a month ago, Chuni Goswami formed the holy trinity of attack in Indian football. He made his international debut in 1958 and went on to represent the national team with distinction till 1964.
He played around 50 international matches for the Indian team and had scored 13 goals. He represented the country at the Olympics 1960, Asian Games 1962, Asian Cup 1964 and Merdeka Cup 1964.
Other than football, Goswami also played Cricket at the national level. He was a University Blue in both football and cricket during his time at Calcutta University. He later went on to represent the Bengal team and even captained them in the Ranji Trophy.
Goswami made his Ranji Trophy debut during the 1962-63 season and went on to play for the state till 1973. A right-arm all-rounder, he appeared in 46 First-class games scoring 1592 runs and took 47 wickets.
In the 1960s, Goswami used to parallelly feature in national competitions in both football and cricket. In 1965,aA crucial Ranji trophy match of Bengal had coincided with the Durand Cup. He did not feature for Mohun Bagan in the initial stages of the competition but once the club qualified for the semi-finals, Goswami had to report back to Delhi.
After completing a Ranji match in Jamshedpur, he flew to the national capital and had appeared in the semi-final tie for the Green and Maroons within three days. had starred in both semis and final as Bagan made a hat-trick of winning the prestigious competition that year.
He could have easily been selected in the national side if luck was on his side and India could have very well got their own version of legendary British player Denis Compton who had represented England in both the sports.
India have indeed lost a sporting icon in Goswami. A glorious chapter in the history books of Indian football, as well as Mohun Bagan, ended with the death of ‘Chuni’ which in the Bengali language means ruby, the gem.