Pal goes from villian to national hero

Updated: 31 August 2007 15:44 IST

Not many of us remember India's last international football tournament win and that's why Wednesday's Nehru Cup win over Syria will be special for all.

Pal goes from villian to national hero

New Delhi:

Not many of us remember India's last international football tournament win and that's why Wednesday's Nehru Cup win over Syria will be special for all Indians.

N P Pradeep's 44th minute strike clinched India a 1-0 win over Syria in the final of the Nehru Cup soccer tournament.

And It will be a memorable victory for goalkeeper Subrata Pal who almost became a villain after the Fed Cup final in 2004, but now he's a national hero.

In 2004 a family in Kolkata couldn't sleep ever since the death of Dempo footballer, Cristiano Junior, following a collision with the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper in the dying minutes of the Federation Cup final held in Bangalore.

Incidentally, that goalkeeper happened to be their son, Subrata Pal.

Post mortem reports revealed that the Brazilian died of cardiac arrest following over-exertion and excitement.

Pal, then 20 years old was suspended by the All India Football Federation for three months. His family meanwhile wanted him to stop playing football.

"It was a tough time for him, its very unfortunate, at that time it was shocking, he needed support from the seniors around him," said Bhaichung Bhutia, Captain, Indian Football Team.

It has indeed been redemption of sorts since then.

The goalkeeper, a product of the Tata Football Academy, has come a long way, overcoming crisis and trauma.

India's 1-0 win over Syria in the Nehru Cup final saw him rediscover himself, Mahesh Gawli was the man of the match, but Subrata could have got that award as well.

"He is a completely different person now, he has changed on and off the field, he still plays very aggressive, but he doesn't play dirty," said the team captain.

And one cannot help but mention the name of India's highest goal scorer in the tournament Sunil Chhetri.

The JCT striker, who was a local favourite, made the Indian outfit look totally different in the company of fellow strikers Baichung Bhutia and Abhishek Yadav.

This win will be a huge morale booster, one that'll hopefully help in winning many more trophies in the future.



Topics : Football
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