Syed Nayeemuddin, 69, the footballer who was the recipient of the Arjuna award in 1970 and, as a coach, bagged the Dronacharya award in 1992, will be given a benefit match on March 2 by his former club East Bengal. Sports and Beyond, an organisation which has helped a number of footballers with such an effort in the recent past, has come to Nayeem’s aid and hopes to give him a big purse. Run by Manas Chakraborty, a sports journalist and a member of the club, it has provided financial benefit to footballers like the late Peter Thangaraj, Sudhir Karmakar, Parimal Dey, Arun Ghosh, Santo Mitra and Gautam Sarkar.
“We have always tried to help needy and deserving footballers. Nayeem does not need any introduction. He has played for all three clubs here and also distinguished himself as a India defender and national coach. So we thought it would be appropriate to help him as he does not have much support and is not coaching any team either,” said Manas “The match will be an exhibition match between all students of Nayeem and some of his former teammates. Former internationals Mauricio Afonso and Camillo Gonsalves of Goa are flying to Kolkata at their own cost to play in this benefit match. It will be a match between veterans of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan basically,” said Manas.
Incidentally, Nayeem started his playing career with East Bengal in 1966 in Kolkata. Nayeem has won 35 tournaments as a coach at various clubs and has three international titles as the Indian team’s coach, the 1987 SAF Games, 1997 and 2005 SAFF Championships. Nayeem has nursed the careers of many a footballer, Indian and foreign including Baichung Bhutia, Krishnendu Roy, Mauricio Afonso, Camilo, Ilyas Pasha, Emeka Ezeugo and Chibuzor, Cheema Okerie of Nigeria etc.
Nayeem was the most accomplished defender with his ability to read the game, his control, distribution from the deep being outstanding. He was a fearless player and once played with his hand in a sling during the Rovers Cup in Bombay for East Bengal against Tatas. Nayeem began with Andhra Pradesh Police from 1961. In 1966, he joined East Bengal and then played for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting. He represented the senior Indian team from 1964 to 1971 with the 1970 bronze medal in the Asian Games being his best moments as he was the captain of the team. Nayeem was also selected for the Asian All Stars team.