Former Indian football captain Mohammed Habib passes away at 74 in Hyderabadtext_fields
Hyderabad: Former India captain and renowned footballer Mohammed Habib, who earned accolades from the Brazilian legend Pele, breathed his last in Hyderabad on Tuesday after battling a prolonged illness. The 74-year-old is survived by his wife, four daughters, and a son.
Habib, who made his mark in Kolkata and resided there for many years, relocated to Hyderabad a few years ago. He had been bedridden for the past year due to dementia and Parkinson's Syndrome. He passed away around 4 pm on Tuesday at his residence in Toli Chowki.
Born in Hyderabad on July 17, 1949, Habib represented India from 1965 to 1975 and was a part of the golden generation that secured a bronze medal in the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok. The team was captained by his statemate Syed Nayeemuddin, with another legend, P. K. Banerjee, as the manager. He also contributed to the squad's third-place finish in the Merdeka Tournament in 1970 and their commendable performance in the Pesta Sukan Cup in Singapore in 1971.
Habib participated in 35 international matches, scoring 11 goals. He made his debut against Thailand in the Merdeka Cup at Kuala Lumpur in 1967.
A revered figure in Kolkata football, Habib was recognised for his agility and skillful footwork. Throughout his 17-year-long domestic career, he represented all three major Kolkata clubs — East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, and Mohammedan Sporting Club.
Despite playing for rival clubs, Habib's exceptional abilities and respected demeanor shielded him from fan rivalry. In Kolkata, he was affectionately known as 'Bade Miyan' and earned the moniker "Indian Pele." His contributions were honored with the Arjuna Award in 1980.
Although originally from Andhra Pradesh, Habib also represented Bengal in domestic competitions. He played a crucial role in Bengal's victory in the Santosh Trophy in 1969, emerging as the top scorer of that edition with 11 goals.
Habib secured the Santosh Trophy five times (1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, and 1975) and won the Calcutta Football League 10 times (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982).
He was also a five-time winner of the Durand Cup (1967, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1982), a seven-time winner of the Rovers Cup (1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1981), and a four-time winner of the IFA Shield (1970, 1972, 1973, 1974).
He clinched the Federation Cup twice (1978 and 1981) with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Habib's remarkable skills on the field and significant presence earned him the East Bengal Bharat Gaurav Award in 2016 and the Banga Bibhushan by the West Bengal government in 2018.
A distinguished player of extraordinary abilities, Habib is hailed as the 'First Professional Football Player' in India.