When the massive crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium erupted in relief after the Indians equalized against Bangladesh, the hero of the day was Adil Khan.
Igor Stimac’s team were saved the blushes by the Indian defender who headed one home as late as the 89th minute after Bangladesh winger Saad Uddin had stunned the home fans with a header of his own that found the mark late in the first half.
Yet, what the 60,000-odd passionate supporters were blissfully unaware of as they left the majestic sporting arena was that the man who had helped his team avoid an embarrassing defeat had taken the field just after a distressing phone call informing him of his father’s impending surgery.
According to a report in the Times of India, Adil was informed, on the eve of the clash, that his father was to undergo an operation following two heart blockages — and that the surgery itself would be performed around the time the match was scheduled.
Unperturbed by the news, the man who made a comeback to the India side after a seven-year gap under coach Igor Stimac managed to calm his nerves and deliver a memorable performance which will remain etched in the minds of all of those who were fortunate enough to watch the proceedings.
Adil said he was pleased with the goal but not with the overall outcome against a Bangladesh side who could have well have run away with the match after a rousing show.
The 31-year-old from Goa was instrumental in defence as well as he effected a goal-line save in the 73rd minute of play after Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had been beaten - thus preventing what would have been a certain goal for Jamie Day’s boys.
A generous Adil dedicated his goal to injured fellow-defender Sandesh Jhingan who suffered an ACL tear recently.