New Delhi: FIFA President Joseph Blatter today condoled the passing away of Indian football legend Sailendra Nath Manna, describing him an inspirational leader who has immensely contributed to the game in the country.
"Whether as a player, captain or coach, Sailen Manna was an inspirational leader whose contribution to Indian football was justly recognised during his lifetime and will continue to live on in our memories," Blatter wrote in a letter written to All India Football Federation President Praful Patel.
"He will also be remembered for his 19 years service to his club Mohun Bagan, which is another reason to place him among true footballing greats, particularly in the modern age, where such royalty is becoming increasingly scarce," he said. "... both personally and on behalf of football family, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter and all of Indian football," he added. Asian Football Confederation`s Acting President Zhang Jilong also expressed his condolences.
"The list of his contribution to Indian and Asian football is long and impressive. He will forever live on in the minds of his fans. Manna`s demise marks the end of an era and the world of football will miss him," Jilong said.
"On behalf of Asian football family, I would like to offer my sincere condolences on the passing away of Indian football legend Sailendra Nath Manna," he said.
Olympian and 1951 Asian Games gold-winning football captain Sailen Manna died at a private hospital in Kolkata in wee hours yesterday. He was 87.
Known as one of the best Indian defenders, Manna made his international debut in the 1948 London Olympics. He was the captain of India in the 1952 Olympics and a member of the 1954 Asian Games team. He was awarded the Padmashree in 1971.
Manna played for Mohun Bagan for 19 years and captained the side from 1950-1955. The club conferred him `Mohun Bagan Ratna` in 2001. He was included in the list of 10 best captains of the world by English FA in 1953 and awarded the `Footballer of the Millennium` by the AIFF in 2000.