Chuni Goswami was a star athlete from the golden era of Indian sports. A footballing legend, a first-class cricketer, a tennis and hockey player, Chuni Goswami lived several dreams in a single life. Chuni Da, as he was commonly referred, had underlying ailments including sugar, prostate and nerve problems. He suffered a cardiac arrest and died in Kolkata on 30 April 2020 at the age of 82 and is survived by wife Basanti and son Sudipto.
Chuni Da started his football career after joining Mohun Bagan’s junior team in 1946 and later made his senior debut for the club in 1954. One Club Players are rare to find even in the spectrum of modern football. Back then, he was one of the gems who throughout his career stayed loyal to his childhood club.
Chuni Da made his debut for the national team in the 1958 Asian Games and scored in his first match against Myanmar. He was the most successful Indian football captain ever. Under his captaincy, India won the gold medal in the 1962 Asian Games and finished runners-up in the 1964 Asian Cup. However, merely at the age of 27, he retired from international football in 1964.
Chuni Da was a player par excellence. His dribbling skills, unmatched body feints, awe-inspiring ball control had made him a household name in India, yet he decided to leave his football career behind and move on. Though his football career might have come to an end that didn’t mean Goswami was done with his career in the field of sports.
After bidding adieu to football, Goswami then concentrated on cricket. Already a Ranji trophy player, Goswami became part of the historic team that defeated Gary Sobers’ West Indies. The combined might of Central and East Zone, led by the inimitable Hanumant Singh, overcame the powerful West Indians in Indore with Goswami picking up eight wickets.
After being made the captain for Bengal team he took the team to the Ranji Trophy final before losing to Bombay. Jarnail Singh, another star of that era once stated,
“We were a bunch of very good footballers. Chuni was different. He was an artist.”
Goswami forte was his trust in skills, be it football or cricket. Once quizzed about the national team’s formation and strategy, Goswami laughed and said
“Don’t waste your time on this. If you have the required skills, then everything will come through. Never forget that football is basically a game of skills. Finally, it makes all the difference”.
After the news broke out of Chuni Da’s unfortunate demise, tributes started to pour out from different parts of the country. Chuni Da was truly the icon and ambassador of Football in India.