Thangaraj was a gem of Indian football

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Chennai, Nov 25 (UNI) One of the few icons in this sport in the country, goal keeper Peter Thangaraj represented the best years of Indian football.

Along with the likes of Chuni Goswami and P K Banerjee, Thangaraj was one of the mainstays of the Indian team that performed well in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics, when India clinched the gold at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.

Born in 1936 in Andhra Pradesh, Thangaraj played for major teams in the country during his time including Madras Regimental Centre, Mohun Bagan AC, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting Club.

His glowing achievements included the gold in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, two appearances for the Asian all star team and recognition as the best goal keeper in Asia in 1958, not to mention the Arjuna Award in 1967.

A towering personality under the cross piece, Thangaraj used to arouse the confidence among his innumerable fans that if he was the custodian in a game, the rival team had no chance of getting the ball past him and finding the net. Whichever team Thangaraj represented that team was sure to win, his fans would also swear! Thangaraj was the custodian of the world-beating Indian team of the 1950s and 1960s. He was one of the best goalkeepers, Indian football had ever produced. Although the lanky Thangaraj started his career as centre-forward for Madras Regimental Centre, he found his calling in goalkeeping.

He was named the Best Goalkeeper of Asia in 1958 and awarded the Arjuna Award in 1967. Thangaraj played twice for the Asian All-Star team and was adjudged the Best Goalkeeper in 1967.

In the domestic circuit, Thangaraj was also a part of the Bengal team, which continuously won the Santosh Trophy from 1961 to 1964.

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