Pradip Kumar Bannerjee, an Indian fooballer, who has won Gold in Asian Games, and played in two Olympics for India, breathed his last yesterday. He was 83. He is survived by his daughters. During his playing days, he along with Chuni Goswami and Balaram were the triplet of Indian football. Indian football could never rise to those heights again of the 50s and 60s when PK Banerjee used to play for India. During his era, India would have played the World Cup, had not they not refused to play the game barefooted. Fondly known as PKDa to the whole world, he has been a mentor to many generations of sports persons in India.
Leander Paes, Sourav Ganguly, Baichung Bhutia are three legends of Indian sports. All three of them were mentored in the intial part of their careers by PK Da. His vocal tonic is very famous in the Kolkata Maidan. He exuded loads of positive energy by his eloquent and oratory capabilities. There was never a sense of negativity in his thoughts.
PK Da was the dictionary of positive thoughts at the Kolkata Maidan. His positive energy was always flowing through the players he coached. PK Da had over forty years of coaching experience and had lot of feathers on his hat as a Coach. East Bengal won the Kolkata League for five consecutive years under him, and Mohun Bagan won all three trophies of Kolkata football in one year under him. His rivalry with opposition coach Amal Dutta continued for 20 years at the Kolkata Maidan. He will be very much missed by the sport of football,and the Kolkata Maidan. His vocal tonic will forever be remembered by the legends of Indian sports.
Three legends of Indian sports
PK Da made Leander believe after he won the Wimbledon Juniors, that he can win an Olympic medal and the Wimbledon crown. Leander went on to win the Olympic bronze in 1996, and has won one Wimbledon Doubles title, and four Mixed Titles at Wimbledon. In 1999, Leander won 03 matches on one single day to win both Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles in the same year. When Leander came back to PK, he just told him- I told you so.
Sourav was sent to PK Da by his father, with a request to train him into a sportsman. He went on to play more than 100 tests for India, and one of the most successful captain. Sourav also made a famous comeback to Indian team, after the coach had dropped him. During his worst days, Sourav used to look to PK Da for help. Again his positive vocal tonic worked wonders and Sourav could get back his place. He is now the President of Cricket Administration in India.
Baichung Bhutia has been the Indian Captain for a long long time. When he came to Kolkata to play football, he started playing for East Bengal, and PK Da was the coach. He mentored Baichung like his own son, and guided him to take Indian football to great heights. Whenever Baichung was under the weather, from opponent coaches and players, it was PK Da who stood like a guard to him, and guided him through the maze. The Federation Cup victory and Baichung’s hatrick in the final, in 1997 is an historical chapter of Indian football.