Subimal ‘Chuni’ Goswami, one of India’s sporting giants who captained the 1962 Asian Games gold-winning football team and also played first-class cricket, died here on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
The versatile sports veteran was 82 and is survived by his wife Basanti and son Sudipto.
“He suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the nursing home at around 5 pm. He was brought here for a routine check-up,” Sudipto told PTI.
Goswami was also battling underlying ailments, including sugar, and prostrate and nerve problems. Goswami needed insulin daily and due to the lockdown, his medical supervisor was not able to attend to him regularly, forcing his wife Basanti to administer the medicine.
Born in undivided Bengal’s Kishoreganj District, which is now in Bangladesh, the striker played 50 international matches, 36 of them official, between 1956 and 1964, including the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He netted 13 goals during his international career.
India’s 1948 Olympic coach BD Chatterjee, who was also in charge of the Mohun Bagan team, picked a 13-year-old Goswami during a trial for the Mariners’ junior side.
Under his tutelage, Goswami grew up to become one of India’s finest mid-fielders after making his debut in 1954. He played his first Santosh Trophy in 1955.
As India’s football captain, he led the team to the Asian Games gold medal in 1962, and a silver in the 1964 Asia Cup in Israel, both of which remain the country’s best performances in the continental showpieces till date.
During his cricket stint, he represented Bengal in 46 first-class games between 1962 and 1973. A right-handed middle-order batsman, Goswami could also bowl medium pace and was a very good fielder.
Goswami, PK Banerjee, who also died recently, and Tulsidas Balaram formed a deadly forward-line during the ‘Golden Era’ of Indian football when the country was considered one of the Asian powerhouses.
Goswami won the Best Striker of Asia Award in 1962.
For his service to Indian football, he was conferred with Arjuna Award (1963) and Padma Shri (1983).
The Indian Postal Department came out with a commemorative stamp on his 82nd birthday in January to recognise his contribution to the game in the country.
Goswami played for a single club, Mohun Bagan, throughout his career before his retirement in 1968.
He captained the club in five seasons from 1960 to 1964. He was conferred with Mohun Bagan Ratna in 2005.
In 1966, he took eight wickets with his medium pace for the combined Central and East Zone team, which handed an innings defeat to Gary Sobers’ West Indies.
He captained Bengal to the 1971-72 Ranji trophy final, which the side lost to erstwhile Bombay at the Brabourne Stadium.
Goswami also served Indian football as a selector in the 1970s and was part of an advisory committee when the National Football League began in 1996.
West Bengal Sports Minister Aroop Biswas visited the bereaved family, while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called his son to convey her condolences.