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“I was always honest in my approach during my playing days and still try to stay like that……”- Tarun Dey

A small-town boy, made big in Kolkata Football. Tarun Dey, true to his name, reflects youth, vibrancy, vitality. In an exclusive interview with Sportsavour, he shared some precious moments of his playing career that are definitely some of the best anecdotes of Kolkata Maidan.

It was a time when Kolkata chanted Football, a time when the city dreamt and slept Football. It was that time during the 60s, 70s and 80s when Kolkata Maidan had some ever-memorable moments in Football history written by some of the legends of Indian Football.

Tarun Dey was a child of that generation. Born to a middle-class Bengali family in Uluberia, some 50kms from Kolkata, it was quite natural for him to soil his feet and clothes playing Football on muddy fields. Tarun Dey turned out to be one of the most dependable stoppers in Bengal Football. He played for East Bengal from 1982-1997, except in 1996 when he played for Mohun Bagan for one season.

The Formative Years…

Tarun Dey: I grew up in Uluberia and used to see my ‘Borda’ (elder brother) playing Football regularly for Uluberia Athletic Club. That inspired me to take up Football in my school and I participated in Subroto Cup representing Uluberia High School. I also accompanied ‘Borda’ to some matches in our locality. Suddenly one day, to my surprise, he bought a Football boot for me as I played barefooted till then.  But he misjudged my size and it was smaller compared to my feet. Still I didn’t complain to ‘Borda’ as I considered that as a boon for me. I played with that shoe; there were sores all around my feet but I ran and played with energy doubled up.   

Influence of Elder Brother…

Tarun Dey: My initial years were literally moulded by my elder brother.  He was the person for whom I took up Football. I was greatly inspired by his playing style. He was a striker and a very positive player. Another reason for following him was that he used to travel a lot for playing. And I thought that if I play then I could also travel a lot.

The ‘Stopper’ Factor…

Tarun Dey: I remember that when I was in 9th standard, we had a match in Howrah District League. Before the start we came to know that our stopper was absent due to some reason. I was a striker then in the team but that day my brother told me to play as a stopper. And from that day onward I played as a stopper for different teams.

Iconic ‘Bechada’- the Guru…

Coach Prashanta Mukherjee nicknamed Bechada

Tarun Dey: Prashanta Mukherjee, nicknamed Bechada, stayed at Bagnan in Uluberia subdivision which was not far from my native place. Bechada had the habit of roaming around the district on his bicycle in search of players. He had seen me in a tournament and liked my playing style. That was the turning point in my career. Under Bechada, there was everything possible. He used to have a long notebook in which he noted down figures, data, statistics and strategic plans. That provided a kind of guidebook for us. He also gave immense importance to physical training. He taught us discipline, self-monitoring and guided us through the thought process. Whatever I learnt in my Football career were all gifts of Bechada who shaped me in such a way that I never felt lost in my whole career. He was the one who recommended my name to the officials of Milan Samiti- the second division club in Kolkata from where I started my professional career in 1979. 

Milan Samiti to Aikya Sammilani…

Tarun Dey: Aikya Sammilani was a newly-formed team at that time playing in the second-division of Calcutta Football League. There was their match against Assam Police for which Aikya’s officials requested the Milan Samiti officials to release me for that particular match. I went to Assam to play that match. It was the first time I travelled out of my state, it was also the first time I played in a complete different environment. At half-time we were leading 2-0 and I saw home crowd leaving the ground in dismay. We played excellent Football that day and won the match 4-0. I also had my contribution a bit and was chosen the Man of the Match. That was my first big achievement. After coming back, Aikya signed me in their club. Aikya graduated to first division in that year and so was I. It was in 1980 that I became a first division player in Calcutta League.

The Senguptas- A family away from home…

First year in Aikya Sammilani

 

With officials and players of Aikya Sammilani

Tarun Dey: The signing for Aikya played a very significant factor in my career. The officials of Aikya, Milan Sengupta and Debashish Sengupta better known as Milanda-Dhillonda gave me all facilities at that time. They asked me to stay at their place and every member of their home treated me as their one. They are my God and I can never forget their contribution in my life. I played for Aikya for one year; then I got a chance to play for George Telegraph- a better-placed team in Calcutta League- in the subsequent year. But my brother advised me to remain in Aikya for one more year to better my skills. That was also an important decision because the following year when I signed for East Bengal, I was fully prepared.

14 Long Football Years in East Bengal…

With East Bengal glories

Tarun Dey: One day I had a chance practice session at the back side of East Bengal club. It was a dream for every footballer of my times to play for either East Bengal or Mohun Bagan. But I was more attracted towards the red-yellow camp as all my family members were East Bengal supporters. While I was practicing, I could see the East Bengal flag flying high above. Unknowingly, I uttered the words, ‘When I’ll play for this club?” And it was a sheer coincidence that on that day an East Bengal top official came straight to me on the ground and verbally confirmed my signing for the club that season. I was in a trance; I spoke to Bechada about this and he instantly said that I should definitely sign. So, in 1982 I started playing for East Bengal and till 1997 I was with the club. In between, in 1996, I played for Mohun Bagan for a season but returned to East Bengal to play in my final year before retirement.

East Bengal Dressing Room- A Friendly Atmosphere…

On the ground as a leader

Tarun Dey: It was a very positive atmosphere in the dressing room. The seniors and the juniors were treated alike. There was no ego-clash between players, there was a healthy vibe. And I never saw officials interfering in the dressing room. There were only coach, assistant coach and players in the dressing room.

Reading the Game Right- The Key to Success…

Tarun Dey: Perhaps I had a positive quality of reading a match well. I don’t know how but I always understood what was going to happen in a match. That conception helped me in getting the things right on the ground. Actually, after a match during my leisure, I either read books or listened to music or else I thought about the match. That thinking process helped me to rectify my mistakes in the next match. Another thing was that I always listened to all creative criticisms, whether it was from my coach, co-players, junior players or even supporters.

Present Days With Football…

As a coach

Tarun Dey: From 2001, I am working with East Bengal junior team. Till 2016 I coached their U-19 team and after that when I could not give time to their U-19 team for my service, I chose to train their U-13 and U-14 team.

Passion for Singing…

As a passionate singer

Tarun Dey: Singing is my hobby from a very early age. Whenever I am alone, music is my best friend. And now, you can say, that music has become my passion. I sing for myself, to keep myself free from all worries. Sometimes I do stage shows for friends and family. That gives me happiness and peace.

Signing Off With….

Tarun Dey: During my playing years I was honest and had given my best for any team that I played. But sometimes, somewhere I feel that if I were born elsewhere, like Goa or Kerala, then I could have offered more to Football.  

About Poulomi Kundu

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