BENGALURU: Indian football has seen many ups and downs. But if the country truly prospered in the game, it was around the middle of the previous century. It was a pan-India sport and Punjab, Hyderabad, Mysore rivalled Bengal for supremacy.
The 50s were dominated by a bunch of footballers from these regions. One among those legendary names was Mysore’s Ahmed Mohamed Khan, who despite being little known in his hometown, prospered beyond imagination in Kolkata. Known as the snake-charmer to East Bengal faithful, Khan breathed his last on Sunday at his residence after prolonged age-related issues.
Son of former state footballer Mehmood Khan, Ahmed began his career with Bangalore Crescents, where he played alongside his father before joining Bangalore Muslims. In the 1948 Rovers Cup final against Mohun Bagan, a 22-year-old Ahmed mesmerised with his skills as Muslims won 1-0. Ahmed was selected in the team for the Olympic that went to was preparing for its first ever Olympic appearance. India faced France in the very first round, and despite a strong performance, went down 1-2.
East Bengal added him to their front-five for the 1949 season and he became a key player to East Bengal’s 2-3-5 formation, also comprising of P Venkatesh, PB Saleh, Appa Rao and Dhanraj. Known as the ‘Pandavas’, they dominated Indian football in a ruthless attack that won them the Calcutta League, IFA Shield and Rovers Cup in 1949. Khan was also a member of the national team that won an Asian Games gold medal in 1951. East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar, has fond memory of Khan playing.
Khan is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.