Kolkata: Former footballers on Monday mourned the death of ex-India captain Sailen Manna, who guided the country to the inaugural Asian Games gold medal in 1951.
"I am shocked at the news. It is an irreperable loss to Indian football. He was an idol to all soccer players not only for his football skill, but also for his amiable nature towards his fellow and junior players and love for the game," Sports Minister Madan Mitra said.
"A football academy will be set up in the state in his memory. The state government will also intruduce scholarships in his name for football players," he said.
Former India captain and coach P K Banerjee said "Mannada, who played in 1948 Olympics beside leading the country in the next one in 1952, was a colossus in the soccer field of the country. I had an opportunity to play with him. He was a father figure to all of us."
Samar Banerjee, popularly known as `Badru` who led the country in Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and represented India along with Manna in Asian quadrangular tournament, said "Mannada was the main pivot in the defence of Indian team. He was also famous for his free kicks from which he scored many goals."
Subrata Bhattacharya, who also represented the country in many tournaments and currently technical director of Mohun Bagan said "Mannada was not only a great player, he was also our teacher. As a football player he was our idol."
Various others sports personalities and administrators including former ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya piad rich tributes to Manna.