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Maradona of Kolkata Maidan

14 December, 2020 11:31:20
Maradona of Kolkata Maidan

As tributes poured in from across the world for the Argentine legend Diego Maradona, one news caught all attention. That of New York Times that drew up a list of football players from far flung, who reminded spectators of the Maradona magic. And among them was our very own ‘Maradona’ of 1980s and early ’90s --- Bengal’s Krishanu Dey. That magic of left foot, close control and drib-bling, an intuitive positional sense, the ability to zip through enemy defense, splitting pass leading to an excitement in the Maidan, that no fervour could ever match.

Bengal's Maradona, Krishanu Dey

Yes, Krishanu Dey was anytime Kolkata’s Maradona. Popularly known as Rantu da, he was born in Kolkata in 1962. In the early years of his life, he was more interested in cricket but stepped into the world of football after he came across football coach Achyut Bandopadhyay. Bandopadhyay realized that this boy was gifted and made him play as a midfielder. In the ’90s, Kolkata gave names to its own footballers, whose skills matched that of foreign players. Like midfielder Goutam Sarkar was called ‘Chhoto Beckenbauer’ and Krishanu Dey as ‘Argentina’ar Krishanu’. Dey argu-ably had the best-ever left foot in Indian football, which brought in the ‘Indian Maradona’ into play. Krishanu Dey started playing Kolkata League in 1979. His first club was Kolkata Police, from where he shifted to Calcutta Port Trust Team in 1980. His artistic passes and dribbling impressed even legendary footballer Shailen Manna. He informed Mohunbagan Club about Krishanu Dey. In 1982, Dey joined Mohunbagan. Here he came across Lalu or Bikash Panji. Gradually, their friendship and coordination developed and they were brilliant on the field together. Their lethal combination helped the club perform their best at the IFA shield against Mohammedan Club. He kept playing for Mohunbagan from 1982 to 1984. Krishanu Dey got an opportunity to join the In-dian team in 1983 and played Nehru Cup. 

He was selected as the captain of the red-yellow squad in 1989 and the team won the Kolkata League that year. He created history by winning the triple crown of East Bengal in 1990. Dey’s contribution behind bagging the shield, Durand and Rover’s cup is simply unfathoma-ble.

Dey with Cheema Okerie

But he switched clubs in 1985 and donned the ever promising yellow-red jersey of East Bengal. It is said, to pick him up. Paltuda from East Bengal would constantly be keeping vigil in front of his house for three days so that no other club could get in touch with Dey! However, in 1985, there was a match against Mohammedan Club and P.K. Banerjee was the East Bengal coach. Dey was allowed to play after the match had progressed for more than an hour. He was saddened, yet as soon as he stepped on the field, he created sheer magic. One dribble after the other and two goals- it seemed he was unstoppable. Bengal realized that Krishanu Dey was an artist on the soccer field.  

Yes, Krishanu Dey was anytime Kolkata’s Maradona. Popularly known as Rantu da, he was born in Kolkata in 1962. In the early years of his life, he was more interested in cricket but stepped into the world of football after he came across football coach Achyut Bandopadhyay. Bandopadhyay realized that this boy was gifted and made him play as a midfielder.

Talking to the press Mohun Bagan legend Subrata Bhattacharya had once said: ‘Krishanu had fan-tastic close control. Dribbling was the very essence of his game and he could do it both ways, in-side and outside. He also had a very good peripheral vision, which helped him supply excellent through balls and quality final passes.’ Krishanu Dey faced a tough time in 1988. He was suffering from a broken cartilage and had to stop playing. Many bullied him saying that this was the end of his career. But nothing could pin Krishanu down. Every morning, he started practicing at the Race Course and in 1989, he again got an offer to play in East Bengal. But the club had just offered Rs 25,000. Dey said, “I do not need money. Pay me if I perform well.” Krishanu Dey was back on the field with a bang. His epic goal in 1989 made him win the ‘Maradona’ title.   

Krishanu Dey and Bikash Panja

He was selected as the captain of the red-yellow squad in 1989 and the team won the Kolkata League that year. He created history by winning the triple crown of East Bengal in 1990. Dey’s contribution behind bagging the shield, Durand and Rover’s cup is simply unfathomable. Again in 1992, he joined Mohunbagan. East Bengal fans were simply infuriated with him and consequently, there was a brick shower in front of his house. Dey died young, in 2003 at the age of 41. His top-flight career in Calcutta club football and the national team spanned 12-odd years. His rise in Indi-an football coincided in fact with Maradona’s magic in Mexico. Today, both Maradonas are no more but their magic on the fields live as a legend. 

Story Tag:
  • Kolkata Maidan, Football, Krishanu Dey

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