The Brazil of Asia. That seems like high praise doesn’t it? Indeed. And a team that was deserving of that moniker was the Indian football team in the late 50s and early 60s.
In his book Barefoot to Boots, football journalist, commentator and historian Novy Kapadia speaks highly of the team under Syed Abdul Rahim which participated in the 1960 Rome Olympics and the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“In 1962, this was India’s greatest victory ever in football because we won a gold medal in the Asian games on away soil in Indonesia,” said Kapadia. “In 1951, we had won it at home. The crowd was enraged against India and they even pelted stones at the team bus and when India played the final against South Korea, the entire crowd booed us. So it was a historic win. It’s the finest display under adversity.”
The members of the team – PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, T Balaram and Yousuf Khan – are legitimate contenders for the title of all-time Indian greats and they mesmerised crowds with their skills.
Relive the genius of that team here: