When we talk about Golden Age of Indian Football in which India accomplished many achievements like 1960 Rome Olympics Getting a 1-1 Draw against France or India’s Gold Medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games There is one thing that is common a young man from West Bengal who made India proud not only by playing but also because of his coaching I am talking about the Indian Captain Coach Legend Pradip Kumar Banerjee
He was Born on 23 June 1936 in Moynaguri, a small town in the North of Bengal .
He was just 16 Year old when he made his Football debut where Represented Bihar in Santosh Trophy in 1952 and 1953 , In 1954, he went on to join Aryan FC . His Feat on the field went on to impress the national selectors and He got his maiden call up for india in a Quadrangular Tournament in 1955 in Dhaka when he was just 19 year old. He Played his first International on December 18, 1955 against Srilanka scored two goals on his debut as India rallied to win the match 4-3. He ended the tournament scoring five goals, the maximum for any Indian player on his International Debut.
From there on He never Looked back He represented India in 36 official matches, wearing the captain’s armband in six of them. In the process, he scored 19 official goals for the country. After Aryan FC a year later He Joined Eastern Railway as he was an employee of the Railways. It was under his leadership from the front that Eastern Railway became the Calcutta Football League (CFL) champion in 1958. At the club level, he scored 190 goals for Eastern Railways and one goal for Mohun Bagan (on loan in the Rovers Cup).
PK Banerjee as he got Selected in Bengal Satosah Trophy team and best thing that came after that he was named in the Indian team for the Melbourne Olympics when he was just 20 year old and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finish fourth. He captained the National Team in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France to help India register a 1-1 historic draw
He was also part of three consecutive editions of the Asian Games – the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, and the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, and holds the record of scoring maximum ( six goals ) in Asian Games for India. He was an integral part of India’s Gold Medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.
Recurring injuries forced him to drop out of the national team and subsequently to his retirement in 1967 but champions never quit. Injuries kept him out of playing but they couldn’t kept him out of football . After retirement from playing carrier PK Banerjee started his coaching career at the club level in 1969 for Bata Football Club.He then coached both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, winning several trophies for both the famed Kolkata clubs. While for East Bengal he won 30 trophies, he ended up guiding Mohun Bagan to 23 trophies. Among his many exploits, Banerjee will always be remembered for inspiring Indian clubs to superlative performances against reputed foreign sides. While at East Bengal, he guided the Red and Golds to defeat Pyongyang City Club (from DPR Korea) to win the IFA Shield in 1973, and beat Dok Ro Gang (also from DPR Korea) in win the DCM Trophy. The 1978 IFA Shield Final, where Mohun Bagan drew 2-2 against Russian Club Ararat, which had several World Cuppers in their ranks, will always be remembered in the list of significant achievements in Indian Club Football’s history. He was also Mohun Bagan’s coach, which held Cosmos (from USA) to a 2-2 draw at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, a match for which Pele had turned up for Cosmos.
At the International level, he began his coaching career as the joint coach of the Indian team in the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, where India won a bronze medal. He then went on to coach India in the 1974 Asian Games (in Tehran), 1982 Asian Games (New Delhi), and the 1986 Asian Games (in Seoul). He was also in charge as the coach in the Merdeka Cup in 1971, 1973, 1981, 1982, 1986; the Nehru Cup in 1982 (Kolkata), and 1986 (in Trivandrum); the Kings Cup in Bangkok in 1981; the SAF Games in 1985 (in Dhaka) where India finished champions; and India’s tour to UAE in 1981. In addition, he was the joint-coach in the Pesta Sukan Cup in Singapore in 1971, and in India’s campaign in the 1972 Olympic Qualifiers in Rangoon (currently Yangon).
He also served as a Technical Director for the Tata Football Academy from 1991-97 and India’s Technical Director for the SAFF Cup in 1999 (Margao), where India won gold.
He was also the first Indian Footballer to receive the Arjuna Award (in 1961), and was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 1990. Banerjee was also bestowed with the FIFA Fairplay Award (in 1990), and the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.