Actor Ajay Devgn on Sunday mourned the loss of former India footballer and member of the last national team that played in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Syed Shahid Hakim and said Indian football has lost an "important leg".
Hakim saab, as he was popularly known, died on Sunday at a hospital in Gulbarga aged 82.
In his upcoming sports drama ‘Maidaan’, Devgn plays the role of Hakim's father, Syed Abdul Rahim, who served as a coach and manager of the Indian football team from 1950 until his death in 1963.
The 52-year-old actor took to Twitter and paid tributes to Hakim.
"RIP SS Hakim Saab. I learnt a lot about you while researching for my role as your father, Football coaching Legend SA Rahim in 'Maidaan'. Today Indian Football loses an important leg," he tweeted.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel also condoled Hakim’s death.
"It is devastating to hear that Hakim saab is no more. He was a member of Indian football's golden generation who played a stellar role in popularising the sport in the country. His contribution to Indian Football can never be forgotten. I share the grief," Patel said in a statement.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said: "Hakim saab's legacy will live on. He was a legendary footballer who has been an inspiration for so many generations. My condolences to his family. We pray for his soul to rest in peace."
‘Hyderabad FC mourns the demise of the former Olympian, FIFA Referee, an IAF Squadran Leader and one of our own Syed Shahid Hakim. His contribution to Indian football is unparalleled and he will be remembered forever...’, Indian Super League team Hyderabad FC tweeted.
In his more than five-decade association with Indian football, Hakim, a Dronacharya Awardee, was also assistant coach to late PK Banerjee during the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi and was independently in charge of the national team during a tournament in Merdeka.
At the domestic level, his finest hour as coach came when he guided the erstwhile Mahindra & Mahindra (later known as Mahindra United FC) to the Durand Cup title in 1988, beating a formidable East Bengal. He has also coached Salgaocar and his last serious coaching assignment was with Bengal Mumbai FC in 2004-05.
He has been a FIFA badge holder international referee having officiated in Asian Club Cup games and was also conferred with the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award.
A former Squadron Leader of the Indian Air Force, Hakim was also a Regional Director of Sports Authority of India and his last assignment was as Project Director in charge of scouting before the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup.
In his playing days, he was a central midfielder but would always rue the fact that he didn't get any playing time during the 1960 Rome Olympics where the coach of the team was incidentally his own father.
It is believed that Hakim was a bit unlucky that he couldn't get to play any games at Rome and then missed out on selection when Indian football had its finest hour at the 1962 Asian Games, winning the gold medal.
Hakim won the Santosh Trophy for Services in 1960 and continued to be a part of the squad till 1966. At club level, he played for City College Old Boys (Hyderabad) and Indian Air Force.
According to old timers, Hakim was a decent "half-back" but not in the league of a Ram Bahadur, Mariappa Kempaiah, Prashanta Sinha or Franco, who were the better players of that era.
During the late 1950s to mid-60s, Indian football teams played in a "two-half system" and hence the above mentioned four at some point always pipped him during bigger tournaments.
Legend has it that before India's last league game against Peru, the team's best footballer Chuni Goswami had requested Rahim saab to consider Hakim as India had already lost against Hungary and France
Apparently, Goswami had said that since Ram Bahadur had an off day against France, why don't the coach give Hakim a go, which the player's father politely turned down.
However, Hakim remained a respected figure in Indian football for the number of hats that he had donned over the years.