Legendary footballer and manager Subhas Bhowmick has died
With the death of Subhas Bhowmick on January 22, Indian football has lost one of its greatest legends whose contributions as a player and then as a manager revolutionized the game and put Indian football on the world map. As a player, Bhowmick was a key member of the team that won the bronze medal at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, the last time India won a medal in Asian Games football. Years later, as a coach, he guided the East Bengal club to historic ASEAN Cup victory in 2003, the only time an Indian football club has won a recognized international tournament. He was, in fact, the only person to achieve international glory both as a player and as a manager.
Bhowmick was 71 when he died and suffered from kidney and diabetes-related issues for the past few months before testing positive for COVID.
In his message of condolence, Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), said: “It is sad to hear that Bhowmick-da, one of the greatest footballers of his generation, has passed away. more. His invaluable contribution to Indian football will always stay with us and will never be forgotten. Indian football has only gotten poorer. My condolences to his family. I share the grief.
Born on October 2, 1950, Bhowmick made his international debut for India when he was just 19 years old in the Merdeka Cup in 1970. India won the bronze medal in this tournament. Powerfully built and blessed with tremendous physical strength and speed, Bhowmick, with his deadly combination of power and skill, could be devastating in forward position. When he was in full swing, he was like an unstoppable force, getting past defenders and hammering goals. He was also a subtle playmaker, creating chances and setting up attacks with precise, well-timed passes.
In 1970, the year he made his international debut, Bhowmick was a key member of the team that won the bronze medal at the Asian Games in Bangkok. The following year, he was part of the national team that won the Pesta Sukan Cup. Bhowmick went on to represent India a total of 24 times and scored nine international goals to his name. In 1968, while still in his late teens, Bhowmick represented Bengal in the Santosh Trophy tournament in which Bengal ended up runners-up. He represented his state in the Santosh Trophy seven times (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975) in which Bengal won the cup four times (1969, 1971, 1972, 1975). Bhowmick had scored a total of 24 tournament goals.
His record at club level was legendary. He started his club career with Rajasthan Club, Kolkata in 1968 and had scored seven goals in Calcutta Football League. He then played for East Bengal for five seasons (1969, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1979). He helped the club win the Calcutta Football League and the IFA Shield three times (1973, 1974, 1975); the Rovers Cup twice (1969 and 1973); the DCM Trophy two years in a row (1973, 1974); and the Bordoloi Trophy in 1973. He scored 82 goals while playing for East Bengal.
While at Mohun Bagan (in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978), the club won the Calcutta Football League in 1976 and 1978; the IFA Shield in 1976 (joint winners with East Bengal), 1977 and 1978 (joint winners with Ararat Yerevan); the Federation Cup in 1978 (co-winner with East Bengal); the Rovers Cup in 1970, 1971, 1972 (joint winners with East Bengal) and 1977; the Durand Cup in 1977; the Nehru Trophy in 1970; the Bordoloi Trophy in 1976 and 1977; the Darjeeling Gold Cup in 1976 (co-winner with East Bengal); and the Sait Nagjee Trophy in 1978. He had scored a total of 84 goals for Mohun Bagan, taking his club career tally to 173 goals. In 1980, Bhowmick retired from playing.
Victory in the ASEAN Cup
As great as his playing career was, it was as a coach that he achieved legendary status. He not only modernized the game by introducing structured training during his time as East Bengal coach, but he also led the club to a historic victory in the LG ASEAN Cup in Jakarta in 2003. It was the first time an Indian football club won a recognized title. international tournament. “I had dared to dream and worked hard to achieve it,” Bhowmick told Frontline after the famous win. It was a turning point in Indian football and Bhowmick as a coach spared no effort to make it happen. He hired Kevin Jackson, a South African fitness expert, worked on the psychology of the players, tweaked their diet and training regimen, and instilled in them the belief that they could beat the best football teams. Asia. He had even persuaded the management of the East Bengal club to arrange five-star accommodation for the players for a month before the tournament. “It was important for them not to go to a foreign country with an inferiority complex. Also, by staying together for a month in a hotel, we all grew closer to each other, and Kevin and I were able to closely monitor the players’ diets and their training,” Bhowmick said. Bhowmick’s initiatives soon began to be emulated by other clubs as well.
Bhowmick was also blessed with one of the best squads in the history of East Bengal. Alvito D’Cunha, the team’s star midfielder, said: “Of course we were the best team in India, but it was not easy to compete with the best teams in Asia. Subhas Bhowmick made us believe that we weren’t the underdogs but the favorites to win the trophy. Most of the credit for the win goes to him. D’Cunha described Bhowmick as a father figure to players off the pitch.
Also at club level, Bhowmick guided East Bengal to victory in the Kolkata Football League (2002–04); and helped the club win the San Miguel Cup in Kathmandu in 2004, the National Football League twice in a row in 2002-03 and 2003-04; the IFA Shield, Independence Day Cup and Durand Cup in 2002. In 2017, the East Bengal club honored him with the East Bengal Lifetime Achievement Award. He had also coached the Mohun Bagan team which won the Sikkim Gold Cup in 1992, and when Churchill Brothers won the Hero I-League in 2012-13, Bhowmick was the team’s technical director.
Bhowmick’s passing marked the end of a glorious era in Indian football. Expressing her grief, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee posted on social media: “Deeply saddened this loyal footballer, Coach Subhas Bhowmick is no more. A medalist in the 1970 Asian Games, a famous footballer in Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, representing the country in international tournaments and a successful coach of the big three clubs in Kolkata, he was a legend. Our government awarded him the Kriraguru Prize in 2013. His death will create a great void in the world of sport. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, supporters and football fans. »