Former India midfielder and East Bengal legend Surajit Sengupta who was an integral part of the Indian football in the 1970s died at the age of 70 in Kolkata.
Born on August 30, 1951 at Bengal’s Hoogly district, young Surajit started playing Football while he was studying in Hooghly Branch School. There he was spotted by Ashwini Barat, lovingly called as Bholada to his students. His father was also a footballer and cricketer, thus Bishu (Surajit Sengupta’s nick name) got active support from his family.
After making a name for himself in his school and college teams, Surajit Sengupta joined Khidderpore Club, one of the breeding grounds of young talents in Kolkata. From his early days, Surajit had an abundance of skills. With terrific speed on the ground, he can mix his shots with an excellent dribbling ability. Soon he was signed by Kolkata giant Mohun Bagan to play for the club for the 1972 season.
Under the guidance of the legendary Sailen Manna, Surajit Sengupta played for Mohun Bagan for two seasons. Next he went to East Bengal and played for six consecutive years. In 1978 he was named captain of East Bengal Football team. In 1980, he signed up for Mohammedan Sporting but returned to Mohun Bagan in the next season where he played for another three years.
Surajit Sengupta was one of the pioneers in East Bengal’s many triumphs. In the IFA Shield final in 1975 he was one of the architects behind East Bengal’s 5-0 rout of Mohun Bagan. In the 1978-79 season Durand Cup final, East Bengal defeated Mohun Bagan 3-0 with Surajit scoring an incredible goal. Playing the outside right, Surajit beat the deep defense of Mohun Bagan with a kind of inside-outside dodge and then finishing the job with a quick touch. The goal is still remembered as a gem by the old timers.
Surajit Sengupta was also part of the triumphant Bengal Santosh Trophy squads in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978, and scored 26 goals. He was that kind of footballer who had the ability to draw crowds in the field. Not only for the big three clubs in Kolkata, but also for the smaller clubs of Kolkata Maidan, he was a treat to watch. Towards the end of his career, when he played for George Telegraph, a good number of people turned up at the ground just to see Surajit Sengupta’s ball play.
But the footballer par excellence, who was immensely successful and popular in domestic circuit, could not repeat his art while playing for the national club. He played for the country in 14 matches including the 1974 and 1978 Asian Games but scored only once.
Surajit’s unsuccessful stint with the national team was somewhat due to the unfortunate fact that his best playing days were between 1974 and 1978- the period when Kolkata was under the grip of Naxal Movement. The ruling party wanted to distract the youth from serious matters towards Football by organising maximum matches at the Kolkata Maidan. The clubs were also informed not to release players for the national team as the absence of star footballers often led to agitation among the spectators. Surajit Sengupta fell prey to this political unrest.
Surajit had a pleasing personality but underneath there was a rebel in him. In 1980, Surajit Sengupta, along with some of the top players from East Bengal, quit the club to protest against the decision of signing a host of outstation footballers by marginalizing the local players. They all joined Mohamedan Sporting, leading to the controversy that some of the best Indian Footballers were dangerous activists.
However, that did not diminish his reputation as an artist of Football. After his playing days, he turned into a regular columnist in one of the leading newspapers of Kolkata. And to the common man, Surajit would always be remembered as the timeless winger, who always raised hopes whenever he touched the ball.
PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata.
After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata.
In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer.
Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream.
So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.