New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Friday expressed condolences on the death of former India captain, coach and technical director Pradip Kumar Banerjee, who was 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.
Praful Patel, the President of AIFF, in his message said: "It's sad to hear that Pradip-da, one of India's greatest footballers, is no more. His contribution to Indian football will never be forgotten. I share the grief."
"He will stay synonymous with the golden generation of Indian football. Pradip-da, you will remain alive in our hearts," the AIFF President added.
Kushal Das, AIFF General Secretary said: "Pradip Kumar Banerjee will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been an inspiration to so many generations. May he rest in peace."
"Post his retirement he scouted and coached a whole generation of Indian footballers, both on the international and domestic level. It's a huge loss for Indian football."
Banerjee was an integral part of India's gold medal winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.
He represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finished fourth. He also captained the national team in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France to help India register a 1-1 draw.
He 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.