Kalia Kulothungan, former midfielder with East Bengal, died in a road accident in his hometown of Thanjavur on Saturday.
Kulothungan, aged 40, was a member of the Red-and-Golds team which won the ASEAN Cup in 2003. The midfielder also won two National Football League titles with East Bengal in 2002-’03 and 2003-’04, under coach Subhash Bhowmick.
The East Bengal attack that he played for is considered one of the finest to play in the national league, containing the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Mike Okoro, Cristiano Junior and Raman Vijayan. Junior died in 2004 while playing for Dempo following an on-field collision involving goalkeeper Subrata Paul.
Kulothungan also captained his home state of Tamil Nadu in the Santosh Trophy, playing a pivotal part in the side coached by PC Thulasi.
He played for East Bengal for three years, starting 2002 and switched to another Kolkata giant, Mohammedan Sporting in 2005. Kulothungan also scored the equaliser in the match against former employers East Bengal in the Federation Cup in 2007. Sporting would go on lost the match 3-1 as East Bengal registered their inaugural Fed Cup triumph, defeating Mahindra United in the final.
After two years for Sporting, Mumbai FC came calling where he played alongside Abhishek Yadav, Khalid Jamil and Kalyan Chaubey under David Booth in the inaugural season of the club in the Mumbai Football League Elite Division and later in the I-League second division. He played for the last of the Kolkata triumvirate, signing for Mohun Bagan in 2009. He returned to Kolkata, aged 34 to play for his fourth Kolkata club, Bhowanipore FC in 2012.