An era in Indian football ends with the passing of Subhas Bhowmick

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Indian football lost one of its most vibrant personalities with the passing away of Subhas Bhowmick. The legendary forward, whose fortitude and determination fetched a treasure chest of laurels to the national side and the clubs he played for, breathed his last at a city nursing home on Saturday. He was suffering from kidney-related complications and chest pain.

The glory of his playing days was uniquely replicated in his later avatar as a coach. The LG ASEAN Cup triumph in 2003, that he fashioned as a coach for East Bengal club, is still regarded as one of the best feats by an Indian manager at the club level.

Bhowmick was 71 and the news of his death came as a jolt to the multitudes of fans and followers, who cherished his eminence as a footballer and his fame as an outstanding coach who knew the secret recipe of success. Bhowmick, known by his nickname of ‘Bhombol‘ in the city’s football fraternity, represented the last generation of players who experienced India making a podium finish in a continental championship.

He made an equally big impact as a coach winning the country’s top tournament, the I-League, twice with East Bengal and once with the Goa giant Churchill Brothers. This apart, his coaching career is resplendent with a host of trophies and cups that the clubs won under his tutelage. 

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He prominently figured in the Indian team that won the bronze in the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games. Later on, he went on to achieve more with the Indian side. He was a part of the Indian team that jointly won the Pesta Sukan Cup with South Vietnam in Singapore in 1971. At a time when international engagements were few and far between, Bhowmick represented India in 24 international matches and scored nine goals.

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Making his way to Kolkata (then Calcutta) from North Bengal’s Raigunj town in the latter half of the 1960s, Bhowmick became a grand success as a winger in the four-forward system prevalent at that time. This was evident in the fact that the best part of his club career was shared between the Kolkata giants, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Starting with East Bengal in 1969 he spent six seasons with each of the two sides before hanging his boots in 1980.

Bhowmick will always be remembered for the part he played in urging his teammates to pile up misery on Mohun Bagan in the 1975 IFA Shield final. Bhowmick provided two assists as East Bengal trounced Mohun Bagan 5-0, a record that still holds strong in the Kolkata Derby.

The level of his commitment could be gauged from the fact that he scored 84 and 82 goals during his stints with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, respectively. 

His undaunted attitude and fiery temper made him a darling of the supporters and a cause of exasperation to the opponents. At the domestic level, Bhowmick was equally successful helping Bengal win the Santosh Trophy on four out of the seven occasions he represented the state. He has 24 goals to his name.

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