Soccer legend Peter Thangaraj passes away

India's legendary goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj passed away in Bokaro on Monday night following a heart-attack. He was 74.

updated: November 25, 2008 09:40 IST
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Peter Thangaraj, the towering custodian of the Indian team which won the gold in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, passed away following a massive heart attack at Bokaro last night, family sources said.

Thangaraj, who was 72, fell ill on Monday morning and was admitted to the Bokaro General Hospital.

The end came at around 11.30 PM, the sources added. He is survived by wife, one son and three daughters. Voted Asia's finest goalkeeper in 1958, Thangaraj was a contemporary of India's soccer greats Chuni Goswami, P K Banerjee and T Balaram.

He played for the country between 1954 and 1968 and rerepresented India in four Asiads in 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966.

The over six feet tall custodian had been greatly influenced by Russian great Lev Yashin and had picked up his style of throw which delighted the crowds.

Thangaraj, who was presented the Arjuna Award in 1968, was member of the Asian All-Star team twice in the 1960s, and was a member of the Indian team which played in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics.

Born in 1936 in Andhra Pradesh, Thangaraj initially played as a centre forward for the Madras Regimental Centre, but took to goalkeeping subsequently with great success.

He played for Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting through the 1960s becoming the heart-throb of the soccer-mad crowd of the city.

He was under the East Bengal bar when the city giants pipped Iran's PAS Club 1-0 in the final of the IFA Shield in 1970 registering a historic win.

Thangaraj was present in Kolkata when he along with other members of the East Bengal team were felicitated by the club for the feat on September 25 last.

Thangaraj, who also played for the Services, represented Bengal in the Santosh Trophy when the team continuously won the title from 1961 and 1964.

After calling it a day from the maidan, Thangaraj worked as coach of the Aligarh Muslim University for some time and also of Vasco S C in the early 1970s.

He subsequently joined as Sports Officer in the Bokaro Steel Plant.

Thangaraj was appointed as an Advisor to the Football Academy set up by the Bokaro Steel Plant.