KOLKATA, March 20: PK Banerjee, a footballing colossus of his time and a raconteur for life, died here on Friday aged 83, having dribbled and dazzled for a good part of his mind-boggling 51 years of service to the game.
He was suffering from respiratory problems due to pneumonia and had an underlying history of Parkinson�s disease, dementia and heart problem. Banerjee, who was on life support at a hospital here since March 2, breathed his last at 12:40pm.
He is survived by daughters Paula and Purna, who are renowned academicians, and younger brother Prasun Banerjee, a sitting Trinamool Congress MP.
Born on June 23, 1936 in Moynaguri on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, Banerjee�s family relocated to his uncle�s place in Jamshedpur before partition.
The 1962 Asian Games gold-medallist�s best days as a player coincided with Indian football�s golden era. He scored 65 international goals in 84 appearances for the national team.
His contribution was duly recognised by FIFA which rated him as India�s greatest player of the 20th century, bestowing him with the Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.
From his debut for Bihar in the Santosh Trophy as a 16-year-old in 1952 to a stint as Mohammedan Sporting coach 51 years later, Banerjee takes leave as one of India�s greatest.
A member of the holy trinity, that also included Chuni Goswami and Tulsidas Balaram, Banerjee was the last surviving scorer of the 1962 Asiad gold-winning team.
Another one of his bright moments with the national team was a fourth-place finish at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where India beat Australia 4-1.
In the final of the 1962 Asiad, India prevailed in front of a hostile crowd angered by chef de mission Guru Dutt Sondhi�s remark that it was �Jakarta Games�, for barring countries like Taiwan and Israel.
Banerjee scored the opener in that game.
He was captain of the Indian team that last played the Olympics in Rome 1960.
He retired as a player in 1967 after being laid low by recurring injuries. � PTI