Football

1962 Gold Stays India’s Biggest Achievement Till Date: Chuni Goswami

AIFF Media relives an interview from the archives with the Late Chuni Goswami, his last interview with the Official website. The interview was conducted by Nilanjan Datta prior to AIFF’s Platinum Jubilee celebration in 2012.

Most label him as the most skilful Indian football player ever. The Captain of the triumphant Asian Games 1962 Gold Medal Winning squad, Subimal (Chuni) Goswami in a freewheeling interview speaks at length about the changes in Indian football while going nostalgic about India’s Gold Medal win in the 1962 Asian Games. EXCERPTS:

 What was the mood prior to the departure to the Asian Games in Jakarta?

People call it the Golden Era of Indian Sports, and it indeed was. We had good camaraderie among ourselves and were training hard. But we were not sure as to whether we would be able to travel to Jakarta because of the paucity of foreign exchange. But  Atulya Ghosh took up the matter with the then Finance Minister  Morarji Desai, and eventually, we got the green signal.

…and India went down in the first match to Korea.

Obviously there was huge hue and cry over a Football Team being cleared for an Asian Games especially when the country lacked financial stability. And when we got off to the worst possible start losing to Korea in the opening match, more daggers were out. But we fought back. In consultation with me, Rahim-saab implemented some technical changes and we never looked back from there.

The Gold Medal in the 1962 Asian Games stays the biggest achievement for an Indian Football till date. This was our first triumph overseas.

Can you elaborate a bit more?

We played out semifinal against South Vietnam who has a lot of French Players playing for them at that time. But prior to the final, Jarnail Singh got himself injured and had a stitched head. But as he stayed indispensable in our plans, we played him as a Center Forward and Jarnail did score one in the final.

The Koreans looked to be a bit overconfident. That they could lose to any Asian Team was hard to digest for them. May I duly mention that we played against a hostile crowd of 100,000 people in the final and the only cheer which we received from the stands was that from the Pakistani Hockey Team.

Footballers were celebrities during those days. Recollect those days when you used to be mobbed on the streets.

People loved football, not the footballers. The passion was there among all the money never stayed the criteria. It was an entirely different socio-cultural setup. Not only me, but all my teammates also were common names and faces and accepted among the glitterati.

My best moment post-retirement came when I was introduced in front of Pele as the ‘Best Indian Footballer ever.’

Where do you see Indian football in 2020 and beyond?

The sport is all about a generation. Tomorrow we may be blessed with a new generation of five-six outstanding players and Indian Football would jump among the best in Asia. Look at the present Spanish team and you will understand. Look at Europe and Hungary stays the classic example. A new generation needs to fill in the boots of the yesteryears. The AIFF youth development stays the future. We need more set-ups like that.

By Nilanjan Datta
Courtesy : AIFF Media Team

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