1960 Rome Olympian and former national football coach SS Hakim dead
Syed Shahid Hakim, a former India footballer and member of the team that played in the 1960 Rome Olympics, died on Sunday at a hospital in Gulbarga, Karnataka, family sources said.
Hakim saab, as he was popularly known, was 82 years old at the time of his death. He had very recently suffered a stroke, after which he was admitted to a hospital.
"He passed away at 8:30am today (Sunday) at the hospital," his wife Sadia Syeda told PTI. In his more than five-decade association with Indian football, the Dronacharya awardee has also been an assistant coach to the late PK Banerjee during the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, and also independently has been in charge of the national team during a tournament.
At the domestic level, his finest hour as coach came when he guided the erstwhile Mahindra & Mahindra to the Durand Cup title in 1998, beating a formidable East Bengal team. He has also coached Salgaocar and Hindustan FC. 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 1988 AFC Asian Cup matches 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.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel condoled the death of Hakim.
"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 release.
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."
In his playing days, Hakim 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, the great Syed Abdul Rahim.
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 Santosh Trophy for Services in 1960 and continued to be a part of the squad till 1966. At the 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 gives 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.
(With PTI inputs)