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Legend lives forever, Sailen Manna's mundane life ends


C S BHATTACHARJEE | Kolkata, February 27, 2012 17:09
Tags : Sailendra Nath Manna | the Great Olympian footballer of India | Padma Shree awardee died | Kolkata | Manna da | West Bengal sports arena | Sailen Manna | Gold medal victory | Asian Games in 1951 | Footballer of the Millennium | The 10 Best Skippers of the World | Manna da was legendary | Manna Da captained India | |

Padma Shree Sailendra Nath Manna, the Great Olympian footballer of India passed away today morning at AMRI’s Salt Lake hospital. The 87 year old, ‘Manna da’, as he was popularly known, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night around 11 pm where he succumbed to death at 1.55 am. The Chief Minister, the Sports Minister, who’s who of West Bengal sports arena and thousands of commoners paid their tribute to him during his final journey at Rabindra Sadan.
Sailen Manna has captained India to Gold Medal victory in the first edition of Asian Games, held in Delhi in 1951 and led India to consecutive four times victory in Quadrangular Tournaments between 1952 to 1956. He also captained India in 1952 Olympics and 1954 Asian Games. Free Kick exponent Manna da, was one of the best defenders India has ever produced. AIFF titled him as India’s ‘Footballer of the Millennium’ in 2000. Nation awarded him with Padma Shree award. But, as a footballer his best accolade might have come from England Football Association in 1953, when the premier organization titled him as One of ‘The 10 Best Skippers of the World’.
Kolkata’s senior most Football journalist Arun Sengupta paid his tribute saying, “His demise brought an end to an era. Manna da was legendary, epoch-maker. He was not only one of the best players of India, but also a coach, a sports administrator and has live relations with all variants of sports and games, from Cricket to Swimming, Archery to Weightlifting. He was an ‘Unquestionable Guardian’ in Bengal sports. He had played bare-footed at London Olympic in 1948 and this news reached British Queen during London Olympics. The Queen had then expressed her eagerness to meet Manna da. However, India had lost the match to France in this tournament.”
Samar (Badru) Banerjee played in the same club with Manna da since 1952 to 1960. He captained India in 1956 Olympics after Manna da’s captaincy. While talking to TSI, Bardu da said, “We were like a family. He has a long tenure of association with Football — as a player, administrator and what not. His acceptability to players and football administrators was enviable. I remember Mohan Bagan’s IFA Shield semi final match against Rajasthan in 1958, both the teams were studded with India players. It was 10 minutes to finish the match and Mohan Bagan was trailing behind 2-0 goals. At that time, Mohan Bagan got a Free Kick and expert of free kicks Manna Da minimised the gap by scoring a fantastic goal. Within minutes, I scored another and the match ended draw. If Manna da hadn’t minimized the gap, I would not have been able to equalise the match.”
Amal Dutta, the former India player and successful India coach, expressing grief over Manna da’s death demanded, “Mohan Bagan should have at least his half-bust statue built at Club premises. I do hereby request the Chief Minister and Sports Minister to erect a statue of this Banga Bibhusan somewhere near Maidan and his photo at Writers’ Buildings or Assembly House.” According to him, “Manna da never smoked or consumed liquor. He was acceptable to everybody. He had no ego for being awarded with Padma Shree or acquiring the role of guardian in Bengal’s sports arena.
Shocked Sports minister Madan Mitra said, “It is an irreparable loss to Indian football.He was an idol to all soccer players not only for his football skill, but also for his amiable nature towards his fellow and junior players and love for the game." He announced, "A football academy will be set up in the state, in his memory. The state government will also introduce scholarships for football players in his name.” 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017