Subrata Bhattacharya.
Subrata Bhattacharya.. Image Source: IANS News

Kolkata, March 20 : Terming his loss as irreparable, former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya on Friday said Indian football legend P.K. Banerjee taught them how to play with Pele and made them the stars they went on to be.

Banerjee died at a city hospital here after battling a chest infection for a long time. He was 83.

A two-time Olympian and the only surviving goal-scorer of India's 1962 Asian Games gold medal winning team, Banerjee, the Asian Games gold medallist, was suffering from sepsis and multi-organ failure due to pneumonia on a background of Parkinson's disease, dementia and heart ailments.

"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 pulled off a heist as Mohun Bagan coach when they famously held New York Cosmos 2-2 in an exhibition match, starring legendary Pele in 1977. Bhattacharya was the captain of the Bagan side which also had the likes of Shibaji Banerjee, Prasoon Banerjee, Gautam Sarkar, Bidesh Bose, Shyam Thapa, and Pradip Choudhury.

"He was suffering from a long time. I don't know what to say. Yes, this was coming but his loss is something that cannot be put in words. I am flooded with memories," said Bhattacharya who is father-in-law of Indian captain Sunil Chhetri.

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.

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