Kolkata: Legendary Indian footballers Karuna Bhattacharya and 1962 Asian Games gold medallist Arumainayagam were awarded the “Mohun Bagan Ratna” on Saturday, a prize given to the greats of the game who have earlier donned the green and maroon shirts.
The awards were given on Mohun Bagan’s 125th anniversary celebrations at the Netaji Indoor stadium here.
While Arumainayagam hugged his 1962 teammate and former India football captain Subimal “Chuni” Goswami on stage after receiving a scarf and a memento, Bhattacharya was awarded posthumously with his son taking the award.
A galaxy of other sports stars were present at the ceremony, including ex-India cricket skipper Sourav Ganguly, legendary hockey player Gurbux Singh and Goswami.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were also present at the mega event besides other politicians.
Due to an acute financial crunch, Mohun Bagan had to postpone their celebrations from last year to this Saturday. The best player awards for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons were also awarded on Saturday. They were given to Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa and custodian Debjit Majumder respectively.
Mohun Bagan’s 2014-15 I-League winning team along with coach Sanjoy Sen and other coaching staff were also felicitated at the ceremony. Nigerian defender Bello Razaq, a hero of their I-league triumph who has since signed for arch-rivals East Bengal for the 2015-16 season, also went up on stage to receive the memento.
Chuni Goswami, Sourav Ganguly, Gurbux Singh and tennis legend Leander Paes were also given special awards for their contribution to sports. Paes could not be present for the event as he is away training for the upcoming US Open.
Founded in 1889, Mohun Bagan was the first Indian team to win a football tournament that was played in India, defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 to win the 1911 Indian Football Association (IFA) Shield. The feat triggered patriotic feelings and aided the country’s fight to gain independence from British rule.
Junior footballers and cricketers including Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, fast bowler Mohammed Shami and Wriddhiman Saha – presently touring Sri Lanka were also awarded.