Kolkata : His dancing feet could make a football talk. But the legendary Subimal 'Chuni' Goswami, who breathed his last here on Thursday evening, would agree that he was incomplete without his decorated India teammates P.K. Banerjee and Tulsidas Balaram.
A little over one month after P.K. Banerjee passed away, Goswami, captain of the 1962 Asian Games football gold medal winning India team, also left for heavenly abode, ending an era of Indian football. Bhaichung Bhutia called it the demise of Indian football's two biggest icons.
Quite naturally, the lone living member of the famous India trio which scored nine of India's 11 goals on way to the Asian Games gold in Jakarta, Balaram was distraught after getting the news.
"I was in shock. When I got the information, I could not talk to anybody for hours. Tears were rolling down my eyes," an emotional Balaram told IANS on Friday.
India were victorious in 12 of the 16 matches PK-Chuni-Balaram were part of, between 1958 and 1962. The trio netted 20 of India's 36 goals in that period.
"We played together for Bengal and India also for so many years. And we had a very good relation. We used to respect each other," said the 83-year old, also regarded as one of India's greatest strikers.
Goswami played all his life for Mohun Bagan, starting as an eight year old in 1946 and retiring in 1968. He won the Durand Cup for three seasons in a row, from 1963, and scored a remarkable 200 goals in a green and maroon shirt. Balaram, on the other hand, was the darling of East Bengal.
Therefore, there was talk of rivalry between Goswami and Balaram, which the latter rubbished.
"We were great mates. People used to say we had great rivalry, but we never had any rivalry, we were very good friends."
Balaram also said the hype around PK-Chuni-Balaram was too much and that players like Arun Ghosh and goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj deserved equal credit.
"Whenever people talk about football, they talk about PK-Chuni-Balaram. See a team is made up of 11 players. Not three players. The three people were taking the name too much. We had Arun Ghosh, Thangaraj all of them contributed equally. Why always PK-Chuni-Balaram? We all contributed for the country," he pointed.
Remembering Chuni, Balaram recalled Indian football's golden moments starting from the 1960 Rome Olympics where they were in a group which had sides like Hungary, France and Peru.
Balaram scored two goals, one each in the matches against Hungary and Peru as India lost but they bravely held France to a draw.
"I lost a great friend. Football lost great footballer and the country also lost a great footballer. 1960 Rome Olympics, we played top-class football against Hungary, France, Peru and all. We played terrific football. It came out in Rome paper also...'another power which is coming in football is India'.
"This is the reputation we had created and in 1962 we won gold medal. What more we can give for the country. He (Chuni) was so good, he was automatic choice in the Indian team. Nobody was there to substitute him. Others were like 'Chuni Goswami is there we won't get a chance'."
Balaram signed off, saying he has lost PK Banerjee and Goswami and it is his turn now to bid-adieu.