Bengaluru, April 18: He was called the wizard of Indian football during the seventies and early eighties. He had such mesmerising skills with the ball that his colleagues hailed him as the magician.
He is P Kannan. The 78-year former Indian striker is languishing with financial distress for a long time after he bid farewell to the pitch in 1982. In his long football career, nobody had come forward with financial help.
"I had been instrumental in steering Bengal win Santosh trophy with the coveted winner in the final of Santosh Trophy for a couple of times.
"I had represented India for at least ten times including the junior and senior level. None of the ruling bodies from East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Indian Football Association (IFA) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) have offered me financial help.
“Kannan incidentally informed that in a long career in Kolkata he had only received Rs 50 thousand once from East Bengal and a check for Rs 25 thousand from Mohun Bagan club.
He said: “When I joined coaching after retiring from football in 1982 and joined Coal India I received Rs 1 lakh 20 thousand.
"I had preserved that amount and then after managing some more money I have been able to buy a small flat. This apart, I have not been able to do anything.”
Kannan’s greatest appreciation, according to him, was a media statement from legendary German coach Dettmar Cramer in 1968.
He remembered: “It was in 1968 Cramer was invited by the AIFF to conduct a two-week coaching in Mumbai. In that camp, those footballers like us were called who were representing senior India that time.
"Every day, he used to take practical class consisting of game, football skill, a technical exhibition with the ball and the preparatory matches.
"We were on the field in the morning session for around three to four hours while we had to attend theoretical classes in the evening.
"After the end of two-two-week course, Cramer had a media conference and he quoted saying that I should be called 'Pele of Asia’!” I still remember and feel it has been my greatest honour.”