PK Banerjee’s Pep Talk Gave Bhaichung One of His ‘Greatest’ Games
PK Banerjee’s pep talk saw an inspired Bhaichung Bhutia play one of his greatest matches.
PK Banerjee had an illustrious 51-year career in Indian football, first as a player and then a coach. Along the way, he influenced many careers and one among them was Bhaichung Bhutia’s.
"He was a great human being. A very happy soul and a father figure to me," Bhutia told IANS.
With his passing away on Friday, the former Indian skipper reminisced the many memories he shared with Banerjee and one among them is part of Indian football folklore.
The match was the 1997 Federation Cup semi-final that had attracted 1,20,000 people at the Salt Lake Stadium. Before the game, the then Mohun Bagan coach Amal Datta had decided to play mind games with the East Bengal players by using odd names for them.
He mocked a young Bhaichung Bhutia by calling him "Chung Chung Bhutia".
"There was a lot of hype surrounding the match and Amal da made some unwanted statements but Pradip da did not let the pressure come into his players," Bhutia recalled while talking to PTI.
"Amal da was clearly under pressure and made some unnecessary statements. But we remained unaffected and it showed in our win," he said.
"Pradip da was such a cool and composed man and it reflected in the match. That's how he could get the best out of the players. It was definitely one of the biggest matches of my life," the former India striker added of Banerjee, who won 54 trophies as coach of club and country, the most for an Indian.
PK Banerjee was known for his inspirational pep talks with players before matches, that are now famously remembered as "vocal tonic". He used the derogatory remark made by Amal to fire up Bhutia who then scored a hat-trick in the match. East Bengal hammered Mohun Bagan 4-1.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)
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