Like in other corners of the world, India too had its ‘Maradona’

Like in other corners of the world, India too had its ‘Maradona’

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty

Updated: December 2, 2020 8:20:40 am

Krishanu DeyKrishanu Dey, with a luxurious left foot, was nominated by NYT as India’s claimant to the exalted comparability. (East Bengal Club)

A depraved left foot, shut management and dribbling, an intuitive positional sense, that grand skill to zip forth a defence splitting go whereas inflicting pulse-racing pleasure in the stands. Krishanu Dey had all of it. And with a diminutive body and sudden acceleration, India rapidly discovered for him soccer’s most stratospheric adjective – Indian Maradona.

As tributes poured in for the Argentine legend, the New York Times drew up an inventory final week of gamers from remote soccer outposts, who reminded spectators of the riffing magic of Diego Maradona. India had fallen header-and-heels for its personal ‘Maradona’ in the 1980s and early ‘90s. The Kolkatan with a sumptuous left foot was nominated by NYT as India’s claimant to the exalted comparability.

Looking for Diego’s successors has been a favorite pastime for pundits and followers alike since Maradona’s march to the the summit of world soccer in the 1986 World Cup at Mexico. From Romania’s Gheorghe Hagi to Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata, the world drummed up anticipatory pleasure over many ‘new Maradonas’ throughout the globe and throughout generations.

Dey died younger, in 2003 at 41 years of age. His top-flight profession in Calcutta membership soccer and the nationwide workforce spanned 12-odd years. His rise in Indian soccer coincided in reality with Maradona’s magic in Mexico. Overzealous East Bengal followers put him on a better pedestal then, calling Maradona ‘Argentina’ar Krishanu’ (the Krishanu of Argentina).

Read| Diego Maradona and his hand with God

At least till the early ‘90s, fanaticism was a key component of Calcutta football. That was a reason why midfielder Goutam Sarkar became ‘chhoto Beckenbauer’ (little Beckenbauer) and Maradona, ‘Argentina’ar Krishanu’. Modern-day followers, grown up on an overdose of worldwide and European membership soccer, would of course have a hearty snigger at the naivete of some of their older colleagues.

Dey was the ‘prince charming’ of the Calcutta maidan in the 1980s. He arguably had the best-ever left foot in Indian soccer, which introduced in the ‘Indian Maradona’ moniker. As his contemporaries would attest, Dey’s soccer thrived on aestheticism.

Krishanu dey East Bengal workforce in 1991. (East Bengal Club)

Fantastic management

“Krishanu had fantastic close control. Dribbling was the very essence of his game and he could do it both ways, inside and outside. He also had a very good peripheral vision, which helped him supply excellent through balls and quality final passes,” Mohun Bagan legend Subrata Bhattacharya, an Arjuna awardee, instructed The Indian Express.

Bhattacharya mother-henned Dey, when the latter joined Bagan in 1982. He later performed in opposition to him a number of instances after Dey moved to East Bengal in 1985. Among all the defenders, Bhattacharya was the most profitable in neutralising the in any other case unstoppable Dey.

“I knew his sport inside out, which helped me. The trick was to shut him down with a participant who would go together with energy, whilst you waited for the second ball. See, we’re speaking about Indian soccer right here and the context is essential. Krishanu’s fashion and rhythm, in Calcutta membership soccer and Indian soccer, had been just like Maradona and therefore he was referred to as the ‘Indian Maradona’, Bhattacharya stated.


He put issues in perspective: “Even in Europe and/or Latin America, at the highest level, the majority of the ‘new Maradonas’ found it difficult against double-covering – someone closing them down, while the other defender/midfielder waiting for the second ball. Only the original Maradona could turn the first marker, skip past the second, nutmeg the third on a regular basis.”

ReadExplained: Does winning the World Cup make Maradona greater than Messi?

In the early ‘90s, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, managed by Bobby Robson and boasting of some world stars, came to Calcutta for the Tata Super Soccer series. There was a moment in the first half during their game at Salt Lake Stadium – Dey took a ball facing his own goal and on the turn, went past four opposition players who looked perplexed. After that, the Eindhoven players started to mark the ‘Indian Maradona’ carefully and stubbed him with their physicality. Did physicality make Dey uncomfortable?

“That would be an oversimplification,” Bhattacharya noticed.

“To start with, you don’t expect an Indian footballer to match the physicality of the European players and shine. Genetically they are stronger than the most from our part of the world. Also, we never had their grooming. Back then, we didn’t even have the concept of strength and conditioning coach. We had very little idea about sports science and injury management. India football was still amateur – players had to get a job apart from playing football. Many defenders here resorted to rough football to stop Krishanu. But it wasn’t that he got intimidated. He could take a kick,” he added.

As Bhattacharya recalled, in his pomp, Dey’s dribbling was certainly some heady edge of the seat stuff.

A Diego in each nation

Argentina understandably has had many ‘new Maradonas’. But the moniker transcended geographic boundaries and enjoying ranges.

Gheorghe Hagi
The ‘Maradona of the Carpathians’. Made 124 worldwide appearances.

Andreas Herzog
The ‘Maradona of the Alps’ performed 103 instances for Austria, together with two World Cups, gained the Uefa Cup with Bayern Munich and was a free-kick specialist.

Hidetoshi Nakata
The ‘Maradona of the Orient’, Nakata gained the Serie A title for Roma in 2001. Played in three World Cups.

Ryan Belal
(Saudi Arabia)
The ‘Maradona of the Desert’ earned the sobriquet after he scored with a handball in the Saudi league.

Hayden Tinto
(Trinidad and Tobago)
A classical violinist, he was referred to as the ‘Caribbean Maradona’ for his ability.

Saeed Al-Owairan
(Saudi Arabia)
He was referred to as the ‘Maradona of the Arabs’ for his well-known aim in opposition to Belgium at the 1994 World Cup.

Ali Karimi
His dribbling had earned him the ‘Asian Maradona’ moniker.

Alex Lopez
He turned the ‘Honduran Maradona’ after the 2012 Olympics.

Georgi Kinkladze
The Maradona of the Caucasus, his dribbling made him a cult hero at Manchester City.

Roberto Merino
Showed early promise and was dubbed the ‘Maradona of the Andes’. Didn’t fairly reside as much as his promise.

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