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Krishanu Dey, the Maradona of India

Sixty years ago, in populous Calcutta, was born the man who was to inflame the hearts of Bengal and all of India. Magic was his dribbling and lethal his sense of purpose, to the point where he was nicknamed the “Indian Maradona”, just that. Back to an icon at the end of the world.

In 1962, Calcutta was suffocating under its month of February. The Bengalis don’t know it yet, but little Krishanu utters his first brays there, the same ones that unleashed supporters will utter twenty years later in front of his exploits. Even if this love story almost never happened. Krishanu dislikes football, which he considers too violent and rigid in spirit. Sacrilege which is not one in India, the cricket monopolizing all the honors as well as the interest of Krishanu. He even excels at this sport, being consistently among the best whisket keeper tournaments in which he participates. But one day, one of the goalkeepers of the club’s soccer team is injured and Krishanu is called to the rescue, swapping the gloves from one sport to another. It was then that coach Achyut Bandopaddhyay spotted him during a match and brought him out of the cages to install him in midfield. The wheel of glory then slowly begins to move.

deyHe began his career in 1979 at CF Fontin the Calcutta League, before moving to Kolkata Port Trust Team one year later. His talent as an attacking midfielder quickly attracted attention, including that of legendary former defender Shailen Manna, former Mohun Bagan, and here he was signing in 1982 for one of the most prestigious Indian clubs, founded in 1889. He finally filled his trophy cabinet there and above all found in Bikash Panji the perfect complement in the midfield and his best friend outside. The artist scored twenty-eight goals in forty games in two seasons, unleashing supporters and passions. Especially the passions. Jiban Chakraborty, the scout of rival club East Bengal, had the excellent idea of ​​cleaning in front of the house of the mother of Krishanu Dey, who was also his agent. Embarrassed, she led him home. He then drew the offer of East Bengal : a much better salary and a job for one of his relatives. Moreover, his friend Bishak Panji was included in the deal. And here is Krishanu Dey breaking through the Maginot Line of Calcutta rivalry signing for the biggest opponent of Mohun Bagan.

It’s good to East Bengal that he definitely writes write his legend. Alongside his pal Panji and Nigerian striker Cheema Okerie, they crush their opponents by winning a harvest of local titles, from the FedCup to the League passing through the Durand Cup and theIFA Shield. During his seven seasons with East Bengal, he sets himself up as the country’s star player (one hundred games, ninety-nine goals), but also as a man to beat. It was on a poorly controlled tackle from Amit Bhadra that Dey’s cartilage was severely affected, causing him to miss most of the 1988 season. His return was half-hearted until the arrival of coach Sayeed Nayeemuddin who revamps him physically and muscularly, making the 1990, 1991 and 1992 seasons the best played by Krishanu. His aura still intact on the side of Mohun Bagan, his former club tries several times to bring him back to the fold. The attempts to recover him are worthy of the best detective films, as the participants compete in inventiveness to achieve their end, bordering on unsavory dark forces…. Finally, feeling the twilight flicker gently, Krishanu decides to accept the ‘offers Mohun Bagan in the company of Panji, but the grace slowly begins to wither (thirty-five games, ten goals). He offers himself a last comeback to his East Bengal adored (fifty games, twenty-five goals) and, three seasons later, he was forced by his employer, the Food Company of India (because yes, at the time, the players were amateurs and had to work), to play for his team with which he put an end to his career in 1997.


Of course, the Indian selection quickly sniffed out the gem and Dey made his debut with the Blue Tigers in 1984. Although he could not win any medals with his country, he nevertheless offered himself ten goals in thirty-four caps, including a hat-trick against the Thailand when Merdeka Cup 1986. During qualifying for the 1984 Asian Cup, he scored his first goal in the 4-0 victory against Yemen North. Qualified for the competition, he does not shine, like the whole team, defeat three times without scoring. He is gradually gaining ground within the team, contributing to the victories in 1985 and 1987 of the South Asian Cup and also scoring in the qualifications of the World Cup 86 against the Thailand and theIndonesiawithout managing to take his team to the next round.

Krishanu Dey did not have time to enjoy his retirement. Six years after hanging up his crampons, he suffered violent fevers and his condition began to deteriorate seriously. It turns out that an old wound was poorly treated and that a virus accidentally inseminated during the operation ended up causing a blood clot and deterioration of internal organs. The elite of Calcuttian football rushes to his bedside and all the Indian supporters pray for a last dribble from their Maradona. Nothing helped, Krishanu succumbed on March 20, 2003 at the age of forty-one from a pulmonary embolism. With him go the tears of millions of supporters, bewildered by the artistic dribbling, the supersonic flashes and the brilliant inspirations of their Krishanu Dey, unjustly recalled to his family. He leaves behind his wife Sharmila and his twelve-year-old son, Soham, who would become a renowned sports journalist in Calcutta.

In a country crushed under the boot of cricket, Krishanu Dey has managed to bring football into the hearts of millions of Indians, like a lover who gives in to the sirens of her suitors. After all, what could be more normal for an artist born on February 14?


Boris Ghanem

Author: Boris Ghanem

Chronicles of a football in the Middle East, from Beirut to Baghdad, from Manama to Sanaa, football under 40 degrees in the shade of a palm tree.

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