O. Chandrasekharan, one of the finest defenders of the Indian Football team, passed away in Kochi on Tuesday. He was 86 and is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Chandrasekhar, a defender during his playing days, was suffering from age-related ailments for some time, a source associated with the family told PTI.
A jolly and friendly man, Chandrasekharan was with the SBI Kerala FC and was the zonal manager there when he retired. He used to be an active walker at the Ernakulam Town Railway Station till about three years ago.
In his condolence message, AIFF President, Praful Patel said: “It is saddening to hear that Mr. Chandrasekhar is no more. He was a key part of one of the most successful Indian teams ever. His great contribution to the sport in India can never be forgotten. I share the grief.”
Football career of Chandrasekharan
The footballer played for India from 1958-1966. He even captained the Indian team in a few tournaments.
At the domestic level, he represented Maharashtra in the Travancore-Cochin Santosh Trophy from 1959-1965, lifting the trophy in the year 1963.
Additionally, he played for Caltex Club from 1958-1966 and then the State Bank of India from 1967-1972.
He has a total of 25 caps to his name and also played in the Asian Cup Qualifiers in 1959, where he made his international debut, and Merdeka Cup in 1961, among other tournaments.
Chandrasekharan was also a member of the Indian team at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He was a born star of the Indian team who won gold at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, the country’s last triumph at the Asiad.
Just before India’s match against Hungary at the Rome Olympics, the Indian hockey players had a warning for the footballers. “Don’t concede more than 10 goals, our hockey players told us, for Hungary was the European champion then,” told Chandrasekharan as per PTI. But India surprised everybody by giving Hungary a scare, losing narrowly by 2-1. It also held France 1-1 and then lost its last league match to Peru by 3-1.
Though India finished fourth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where Neville D’souza scored a hat-trick against the host Australia, legendary coach S.A. Rahim felt that the 1960 team was the best.
Chandrasekharan who hailed from Irinjalakuda later moved to Mumbai and was also the captain of the Maharashtra team that won the Santosh Trophy in the sixties.
After S.S. Narayan and S.S. Hakim, who both played in the 1960 Rome Olympics team and passed away recently, the country has lost three of its finest football stars in a span of 20 days.