Kolkata: Indian football lost two of its brightest gems from the 1970s in less than a month when Surajit Sengupta, 71, succumbed to Covid-19 at a city nursing home on Thursday. Subhas Bhowmick, a peer of Sengupta who later became a renowned coach, earlier passed away on January 22 from kidney-related ailments.
Somewhat slightly built for a footballer, Sengupta was a gifted international winger who had donned the colours of ‘Big Three’ of Kolkata - East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting. Indian football fraternity mourned the death of Sengupta, known for his delightful dribbling skills and an uncanny ability to find the net.
The right winger made his international debut in 1974 against Thailand in the Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur and went on to represent India in 14 matches. He represented India in the Asian Games in 1974 and 1978, the Merdeka Cup in 1974, the President’s Cup in 1977 and in international friendlies against UAE and Bahrain (1979). He scored his lone international goal against Kuwait in the 1978 Asian Games.
“It’s sad to hear that Surajit da, one of the most skilful wingers in the history of Indian football is no more. His invaluable contribution to Indian football will always remain with us, and never be forgotten. Indian Football has only got poorer,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel said in his condolence message.
Mamata condoles death
“Lost veteran star footballer Surajit Sengupta today. Heart throb of football fans and an outstanding national sportsman as well as a perfect gentleman, he will ever be in our hearts. Deepest condolences,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a tweet.
Sengupta played for Mohun Bagan for two seasons from 1972 and in 1974, he made East Bengal his home for six consecutive years and became their captain in 1978. He was conferred Lifetime Achievement Award by the club in 2018.
For Mohun Bagan, he scored 54 goals and helped them win Rovers Cup in 1972 (joint-winners) and 1981, Federation Cup in 1981 and 1982, Sait Nagjee Trophy in 1981, Durand Cup in 1982 (joint-winners), Darjeeling Gold Cup in 1982 (joint-winners) and Calcutta League in 1983.
He signed up for Mohammedan Sporting in 1980 and after one season, returned to Mohun Bagan at the fag end of his career where he played for another three years.