Sachin, Chhetri, Ganguly, Bhutia Condole PK Banerjee’s Passing
Modern day sports icons Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Chhetri have offered their condolences on the death of former India football captain, coach and technical director Pradip Kumar Banerjee who passed away on Friday afternoon.
Fondly referred to as PK Banerjee by his vast legion of fans, Banerjee breathed his last at a private hospital in Kolkata after a prolonged illness. He was 83.
"Heartfelt condolences on the passing of the great Indian footballer PK Banerjee! Have fond memories of meeting him on a few occasions and the positivity he spread. May his soul Rest in Peace," tweeted Tendulkar.
Sourav Ganguly also took to Twitter to express his condolences. The former cricketer and current BCCI President said he had enormous love and respect for Banerjee as the latter had a great influence on his career when he was an 18-year-old boy.
"Lost a very dear person today...someone who I loved and respected enormously...someone who had so much influence in my career when I was a 18 year old boy...his positivity was infectious...may his soul rest in peace...lost two very dear persons this week," tweeted Ganguly.
Offering his condolences, Chhetri wrote: "I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. PK Banerjee as well as to the entire Indian football fraternity. He was a pioneer in every sense of the word, and his achievements will forever have a place in Indian footballing history. Rest in peace."
Meanwhile, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia termed Banerjee a "father figure" and said he played one of his best matches under his coaching. "He was a great human being. A very happy soul and a father figure to me," Bhutia told IANS.
"I was fortunate to play one of my greatest matches under him. It is a big loss to Indian football. He is one of the greatest footballers and coaches India has ever seen," said Bhutia.
Former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya said Banerjee taught them how to play with Pele and made them the stars they went on to be.
"He taught us what no one ever could. As a player and coach, Pradip da's contribution to Indian football can never be matched and I don't need to say this," Mohun Bagan legend Bhattacharya told IANS.
Banerjee represented India in 36 official matches, wearing the captain's armband in six of them. In the process, he scored 19 official goals for the country.
He was also the first Indian footballer to receive the Arjuna Award (in 1961), and was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 1990. Banerjee was also bestowed with the FIFA Fairplay Award (in 1990), and the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.