Calcutta: Two-time Olympian Sahu Mewalal who guided India to 1951 Asian Games title with his solitary goal, died at the SSKM Hospital late last night following illness.
He was 82 and is survived by wife Laxmi Devi Lal (64-year-old), 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 only to be diagnosed with a gall bladder stone.
He was again hospitalised on December 8 for removal of the stone and was 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 a complication and 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 Saturday at Kalighat and a small procession went through his former clubs Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Aryans Club and BNR, his son added.
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.
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 Calcutta with his father who was a 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 Aryans (1945). After two years he began playing for Mohun Bagan under Sailen Manna.
In fact, it was Mewalals hattrick for Aryans against Mohun Bagan in a Calcutta Football League (Premier Division) match in 1945 that impressed Manna who later brought the diminutive centre-forward into the green-and-maroon brigade.
The duo then went on to represent the country in early 1950s.
In 1958, while playing in an Inter-Railway tournament in Kharagpur he broke his knee that brought the curtains down on Mewalals illustrious 20-year career.
DoB: July 1, 1926
For India: 1951 Delhi Asian Games — India played three matches on way to gold. Mewalal was the topscorer, getting goals in all three matches
Represented India in 1948 London Olympics and 1952 Helsinki Olympics
Clubs — Aryans, BNR, Eastern Railway (then Eastern Indian Railway), Mohun Bagan, Rajasthan Club
Top scorer in CFL 1949 (ER), 1951 (ER), 1954 (ER), 1958 (BNR)
Scored more than 150 goals in the local league.
Scored 39 goals for Bengal in Santosh Trophy which included five hattricks