PANAJI: Former India football stars have paid glowing tributes to Indian film industry legend late Dilip Kumar, who was a passionate supporter of the Blue Tigers.

Former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya, who was a part of the Blue Tigers side that played in the 1984 AFC Asian Cup, is quoted on, as saying: “Dilip Kumar was extremely passionate about football. On the field, when he’d come to a game as a chief guest, you don’t get to talk much. But I had met him a few times off the field as well, and he used to love to discuss the game with us. I remember he used to be a frequent visitor in the Rovers Cup games. He had also come to the Santosh Trophy Final in Kashmir (1978-79).”

Off the pitch, Bhattacharya had met Dilip Kumar a few times in different studio sets, and the former defender recalled how the filmstar had shown his hospitality. “I went to meet him a few times when I was in Bombay, at the Himalaya and the Nataraj Studios. The first time I went there, he came over to me and bellowed in an affectionate manner ‘Aise khada kyun hain? (Why are you standing there).’ He took me to the director and introduced me, ‘Bada player hai, India ke liye khelta hai. Isse baithne do. (He’s a big player, plays for India. Let’s find him a place to sit)’.”

Member of the Indian bronze medal-winning squad in the 1970 Asian Games, Subhash Bhowmick has been an avid fan of Dilip Kumar films.  “It was an honour to see such a great superstar come to watch our matches. Not only the club matches, but he was also an avid follower of the National Team,” he recalled. “This is a huge loss for the world of art and culture. He was one of the first true superheroes of Indian cinema,” said Bhowmick.

Former Blue Tigers captain Prasanta Banerjee, who had represented India in the 1984 AFC Asian Cup, said: “I had first met him in the Rovers Cup in Bombay, when he was the chief guest in the 1980 final (East Bengal vs Mohammedan Sporting). Later, when I was playing for Mohammedan Sporting, he had visited the club a few times as well and we had several chats,” Banerjee informed. “When I got to chat with him, I understood his love for football. He knew me by my name. For me that was a big honour – he was such a legend. He loved watching football with all his heart, and had come to watch a number of matches from the stands.”


Goa’s first Arjuna Awardee and former India goalkeeper Brahmanand Shankhwalkar recalled the times in relation to football-lover late Dilip Kumar. “During the final of Santosh Trophy on 15th April 1984, I saw Dilip Kumar walking along with Saira Banu behind the technical area and sitting on the stage…After Goa won 1-0 and the situation calmed down following hundreds of fans entering the field to greet us, I was thrilled with the victory plus the thought of shaking hands with Dilip Kumar could make it a more memorable day. However, that wasn’t to be as he had left the stadium early. I am also given to understand that Dilip Kumar attended the early years (70s) for Rovers Cup, but unfortunately a meeting never happened,” Brahmanand told


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