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Football great Shew Mewalal dead

December 27, 2008 18:05 IST

Two-time Olympian Shew Mewalal who guided India to 1951 Asian Games title with his solitary goal, died at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata late on Friday night following illness.

He was 82 and is survived by his 64-year-old wife Laxmi Devi Lal, a son Krishna Lal and two daughters.

Born on July 1, 1926, the former India striker was first hospitalised on November 14 after suffering from pneumonia. He was discharged one week later but only to be diagnosed with a gall bladder stone.

He was again hospitalised on December 8 for removal of the stone and operated upon on December 19. According to hospital authorities the operation was successful but he stopped eating since then as he was on a liquid diet.

"He was showing signs of recovery but on Thursday night he developed complication and he was put on ventilation as he had some breathing problems. But last night around 11.30pm, the doctors gave up," Krishna Lal said.

The funeral took place on Saturday at Kalighat and a small procession went through his former clubs Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Aryans Club and BNR, his son added.

Mewalal's body was first taken to Mohun Bagan club where the green-and-maroon flag was wrapped around him as officials and former footballers laid wreaths on the deceased footballer.

Former India coach Syed Nayeemuddin, West Bengal Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty were present during the funeral which took place around 3pm.

Mewalal was humiliated at the BNR Hospital last month when the ailing footballer was taken for his pneumonia treatment.

The doctors at the city hospital had refused to recognise the veteran footballer and even went to the extent of asking for medals and certificates when Mewalal's son told the hospital authorities his father had scored the all-important goal against Iran in the Asian Games final and also played in the 1948 London Olympics and the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

"Show us the medals ... the certificates first," the MD of the BNR Hospital demanded from Mewalal's son.

Krishna Lal later sought the help of the sports minister who wrote a letter and after which the former footballer was admitted to the Woodburn Ward of the SSKM Hospital where he was underwent treatment till his last. Mewalal died without any recognition from the government.

Mewalal hailed from Daulatapur of Gaya District in Bihar but came to Kolkata with his father who was Grade IV employee at Fort William.

He later went on to play for Morning Star FC -- a club formed by the Britishers. His first club football began in 1938 when he joined Khiddirpore Second Division Club before making it to Aryan (1944). After two years he began playing for Mohun Bagan under Sailen Manna.

In fact, it was Mewalal's hat-trick for Aryans against Mohun Bagan in a Calcutta Football League (Premier Division) match in 1945 that impressed Manna who later roped in the diminutive centre-forward into the green-and-maroon brigade.

The duo then went on to represent the country becoming India's formidable striker and defender in early 1950s. In fact, Mewalal was an important member of the 1948 Olympic football contingent who played barefoot in London.

His claim to fame came in 1951 when watched by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru he scored the all-important goal against Iran in India's first Asian Games triumph.

He also went on to represent India at the Helsinki Olympics.

In 1958, while playing in an Inter-Railway tournament in Kharagpur he broke his knee that brought the curtains down on Mewalal's illustrious 20-year career.

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