Former Olympian now a forgotten hero

Kolkata: Former Olympian soccer star
Mohammad Abdus Sattar, who was part of the 1951 Asian Games
gold winning team and led Mohun Bagan to their maiden Rovers
Cup victory in 1955, is today a forgotten man.

Sattar, now 84, who did battle for India in many
international encounters, suffers from dementia caused by
Alzheimer`s disease, confined to bed in his flat near Park
Street here, often forgetting his son or wife`s name.

He might have suffered memory loss, but he distinctly
remembers Mohun Bagan`s name, for whom he played from 1950-58,
which had recognised his contribution by conferring him with
the "Ratna" (jewel) award in 2008.

But since then, the club has hardly remembered the star
who played in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, rues his son Aftab.

"Ratna toh diye dilen, kintu jatno korchhen ki? (Is the
club taking proper care of their jewel?)," he asked.

Recollecting his father`s service to football, he said, "In early 1950s, he had a lucrative job with Calcutta
Customs which had a team playing in second division.

"It was a very big post at that time, but to pursue his
dream of playing for India, he quit the job and joined Mohun
Bagan. Soon, he got the India break and played with the likes
of Shew Mewa Lall under Sailen Manna, as they went on to win
the 1951 Asian Games gold in Delhi."

"But what is he getting in return for his sacrifice?
There has been no financial help for his treatment. Nobody
remembers him anymore. No club official has come to see him
after presenting him the `Ratna` award," Aftab lamented.

"The club remembered Sattar only once thereafter, on the
Bengali New Year`s day, enquiring whether he could attend a
function. The IFA had given him Rs 1 lakh and the only
monetary support he gets is the Rs 7,000 pension (being a
former Olympian) every month," he said.

Aftab, however, said that only Sailen Manna, former India
captain, remembers his father and rings up to inquire about
his health.

"I am not asking for any monetary help, money can`t buy
you everything. But what is he getting in return for his
contribution to football? Obscurity."

Sattar, realising he was talking to a journalist, tried
to recall his past, though with difficulty.

"I used to be a playmaker for Mohun Bagan," he said as
his eyes turned moist.

But the conversation could not go forward as he failed
to recall anything more.

"He behaves like a small kid with no sense. Sometimes he
even forgets my name. It is getting worse day by day," Aftab

To make matters worse, Sattar`s wife Sadiqa Khatoon is
also bed ridden for last eight months, suffering from kidney
problems and she has to go through dialysis every week.

"I can`t leave home, my business has suffered badly as I
am not able to go out. In the last two years, only two
business trips have been possible," Aftab rued.

Originally from Karnataka, Sattar studied in St Xavier`s
Bangalore and played for Bangalore Muslim Club. But with
limited opportunity, he shifted to Kolkata in 1949.

Sattar, who was among the 1948 Olympic probables, joined
Mohammadan Sporting but switched over to Mohun Bagan soon.

With Sattar in the forward line, Mohun Bagan won the
Kolkata League four times (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956), IFA Shield
twice (1954, 1956) and lifted the Durand (1954) and Rovers Cup
(1955) once.

In 1952 and 1954, India were champions in a Quadrangular
Football Competition involving India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and
Burma with Sattar playing a stellar role.


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