A prominent member of India’s 1956 Olympics side that finished fourth and a highly-rated midfielder during his time, Nikhil Nandy, breathed his last on Tuesday afternoon in Kolkata. He was 88 years old and is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.
He had previously contracted the Coronavirus around September and had to be hospitalised for the same. He tested negative in time and was even able to return to his home but secondary complications meant that the hospital visits had become more frequent. Eventually, after a prolonged period of illness, he finally lost this battle.
Nandy was a regular in the Indian national football team as well as the Eastern Rail side in the 50s. A midfielder by trade, he captained the Eastern Rail side and was a role model for younger players like PK Banerjee. He was also actively involved in coaching youngsters near his home in Nagerbazar in Kolkata till quite recently.
However, he will mostly be remembered for his role in India’s performance in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics where a young Indian side (average age 23) defeated Australia 4-2 in the quarterfinals to reach the semi-finals for the first time. Legendary coach Syed Ahmed Rahim was in charge of the Indian side which featured Nandy as a withdrawn forward along with captain Samar Banerjee. Peter Thangaraj, PK Banerjee, Noor Mohammed, Neville D’Souza and J Kittu were the other stalwarts who were a part of that side.
His death is another one in a long list of former footballers who have passed away this year including the likes of Chuni Goswami, PK Banerjee and Carlton Chapman. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) did put out a tweet condoling his unfortunate demise but the anonymity with which one more legendary figure of Indian football breathed his last is something that we, as a nation, should introspect about.