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Feted but left frail for it

Nine surviving members of the 1956 Indian football team - which reached the Melbourne Olympic Games semi-final - were there at the function organised by the Sports Ministry, reports HT Correspondent.

other Updated: Feb 24, 2009 00:05 IST
HT Correspondent

It was a gesture in good spirit but it left those being felicitated feeble and enervated. Nine surviving members of the 1956 Indian football team - which reached the Melbourne Olympic Games semi-final - were there at the function organised by the Sports Ministry bringing with them loads of memories, which kept the huge media contingent busy with their microphones and notebooks.

There was MS Gill waxing eloquent on how he loved the 'poor man's' game and how desperately he wanted to meet the late legend Shew Mewa Lal. "Unfortunately, I was late; he passed away before I could meet him in Kolkata," Gill said.

There were claps and applause for the legends --- some in their 80s --- as they relived the magical moments one more time.

The ceremony done with, PK Banerjee, looking tired and, assisted by a lady, walked out of the room, visibly exhausted by the claustrophobic ambience.

He was the only one who didn't get the opportunity to speak because the time was running out and the legendary winger was quite sore about it.

"I couldn't speak because time was running out," he said. On whether the exercise had tested his patience (the small room overflowing with people), he said: "It tested my patience a bit…but being a footballer I have handled worse situations." His hands shook, the result of the paralytic attack, but the voice was steady and unwavering.

But others were even more uncharitable. "The Ministry doesn't realise six of us are heart patients and still they organised the event in a small room," said another legend.

Perhaps the minister missed out on this point.