PK Banerjee by the numbers: 64 titles, 190 goals and a bit of fun against Pele
PK Banerjee, one of India's greatest ever footballers, died on Friday. His legendary career -- both as a player for club and country, as well as a coach -- is backed by incredible stats. Here are a few of the most remarkable numbers.
Banerjee is one of only three Indians to have scored in an Asian Games men's football final, opening the scoring for India during their 2-1 win against South Korea in Jakarta in 1962. Sahu Mewalal had scored for India in the 1951 final in New Delhi, where they beat Iran 1-0, while defender Jarnail Singh, playing as a centre-forward, scored the second goal of the 1962 final. Overall, his six goals at the Asian Games are the most by any Indian.
Banerjee was both the youngest and oldest goalscorer for India at the time of his active career. At 19 years and 177 days, he scored two goals against Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at the 1955 Quadrangular in Dhaka on debut, making him the youngest scorer for India in international football. Banerjee's last goal came against Japan at the 1966 Asian Games, where India led 1-0 thanks to his goal but ended up losing 2-1. He was 30 years and 261 days at the time.
Banerjee scored 111 goals in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) for Eastern Railway, perhaps one of the most unheralded teams at the time of his stint with them between 1955 and 1968. He was a key player in their CFL title triumph in 1958, which was the only time since independence that this title didn't go to one of Bagan, East Bengal or Mohammedan Sporting. In all competitions, Banerjee scored 190 goals for Eastern Railway.
Banerjee's 64 titles and trophies won as coach of club and country are a record for an Indian, 23 more than his contemporary and rival Amal Dutta. That half-century includes both the Pesta Sukan Cup in Singapore in 1971 with India, as well as the CFL first division title with unfancied Bata in 1969, not long after having obtained his coaching licence in Japan. He coached Railways to five Santosh Trophy titles, and also took Indian Railways to a World Railways football title in Nigeria in 1981.
Though Banerjee's victories as coach include titles won for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, he was in charge of the latter when they scored their most emphatic Kolkata derby win -- a 5-0 victory in the 1975 IFA Shield final played at the Bagan home ground. That remains the biggest margin of victory in derby history. Interestingly, PK's younger brother Prasun was part of the Bagan squad that lost the IFA Shield final in 1975, and had to hide inside a boat to escape the wrath of the fans after the match.
Also, 5: The calendar year 1972 was perhaps the peak of Banerjee's powers as coach -- East Bengal lifted five titles in what was his first year as coach, winning the CFL, the IFA Shield, the Durand Cup, the Bordoloi Trophy, and sharing the Rovers Cup with Mohun Bagan after the final and the replay both ended in goalless draws. Statistically, 1972 was exceptional for East Bengal -- they were unbeaten through the year and conceded just four goals.
Perhaps the two most high-profile goals for Banerjee as coach came at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on September 24, 1977. Goals from Shyam Thapa and Mohammad Habib helped Mohun Bagan, coached by Banerjee, hold the New York Cosmos, with three-time World Cup winner Pele leading their attacking line, to a 2-2 draw. Bagan scored twice in response to the early goal from Carlos Alberto Torres -- the man who captained Brazil to the 1970 World Cup win in Mexico -- and had the lead for over 40 minutes before conceding off a late penalty.
Banerjee's greatest triumph that day? Ensuring that Pele didn't score a single one of Cosmos' goals.
(With inputs from football historian and statistician Gautam Roy)