Mohammed Yousuf Khan in 1962 had helped India beat South Korea in football during the Asian Games. Khan two years before that had also represented India during the 1960 Rome Olympics.
But now decades on his contribution to the country lays forgotten
Khan lost his life in 2006 due to heart attack, but for over 40 years not only was he ignored, but thanks to government’s apathy, the current generation is not even aware of the contribution. While we all know the condition of football in India, people who have actually been part of the Indian team could have used a person like Khan to campaign and promote the sport and generate more interest in the game.
It 1962, the Asian Games had taken place in Indonesia and India not only won gold in football there, but it was also their best performance in history.
File photo of the Indian football team that took part in the 1960 Olympics. New Indian Express
During the event, India’s chef-de-mission had criticised the hosts for excluding teams from Israel and Taiwan for political reasons.The move had not only made India unpopular in the games and but they had to face a hostile crowd right from the beginning of the Games.
But despite the hostility, India not only defied the odds and come out on top. The team did so by beating the formidable Korean team 2-1 in the final.
These were a breed of Indian footballers who belonged to tougher times and playing football was a matter of life and death for them.
In this lot, Khan stood out from the rest as he was the midfield maestro for the Indian team. Even today Khan is considered one of the best all-round players to come out of India. He used to gallop like a horse when he used to play and his ball control in midfield was a thing for the legends.
Famous amongst his fans as “the bearded horse”, Khan played a huge part in India’s triumph in the 1962 and was even awarded the Arjuna Award in 1966 for it.
The country and the government though didn’t give him anything more in return.
Khan, who was was one of the only two Indians to be selected in the 1965 Asian All Stars XI team, suffered as many as a three head injuries while playing the sports he loved.
But despite that his determination never lessened and he continued to push on and never give up.
But continuing to play in spite of the three head injuries had its consequences as in 1994 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and these head injuries cited as the cause for his Parkinson.
The legs that once created magic in few years could not even support Khan. They were so swollen that at times one could see the struggle and pain on his face while he tried getting up.
The Olympian at one point was even left wondering whether players of his generation were right in sacrificing so much for the country and yet get nothing in return.
It was a tragedy as Yousuf Khan was being forced to live on the Rs. 3500 monthly pension which he got by virtue of retiring from the Police Department and an additional Rs.2000 a month that the Central Government gave as a monthly grant.
But, a majority of this money was spent towards his medical expenses with little left to cater to the needs of his family.
To make matters worse even the Rs. 50,000, that was presented to him by Mr. H. J. Dora, former DGP and president of AP Olympic Association, was later blocked in a private finance firm, thus when Khan needed the country the most the Indian Government took a backseat and did nothing for the legend.