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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Former India footballer Prasannan passes away

Prasannan played alongside greats of Indian football like Inder Singh and Doraiswamy Natraj and earned plaudits as a gifted midfielder. He represented Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa in Santosh Trophy.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: July 1, 2021 6:57:26 pm
M Prasannan was a gifted midfielder of the 1970s. (Credit: TK Chathunni's collection)

Former international footballer M Prasannan passed away in Mumbai on Thursday. He was 73. A gifted midfielder of the 1970s, he shared the dressing room with stalwarts of Indian football like Inder Singh and Doraiswamy Natraj. He played for Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa in Santosh Trophy National Football Championship.

Prasannan was part of the Indian team coached by PK Banerjee and captained by Inder Singh in the Merdeka Cup in 1973. He scored a goal in the fifth-place playoff which India eventually lost to South Vietnam. Like the Brazilian legend Socrates of a later vintage, the bearded Prasannan sported a characteristic headband whenever he stepped onto the field.

“Prasannan liked short passes and he was a very good distributor of the ball and a free-kick master. He was also a hard working player,” said former Indian defender TK Chathunni, who played alongside Prasannan in the Merdeka Cup.

Born in Kozhikode in Kerala, Prasannan started his footballing journey at St. Joseph’s School. He got into the Kerala state junior team in 1965 and the senior team three years later. Excellent SC, Young Gems, Young Challengers clubs are some of the clubs he played for in Kerala.

Dempo Goa brought Prasannan into their mix in 1970. He made a name for himself as a creative midfielder at the Goan club. The player profile section of Dempo’s website is effusive in its praise for Prasannan. “Arriving in Goa from Kerala, the central midfielder was a highly influential player with tremendous ball skills and an overflowing bag of tricks. He could control the tempo of the game and also flummox the best of defences with his immaculate distribution and passing,” it reads.

In the early 1970s, Prasannan left Dempo for Central Bank of India, Mumbai, and remained with them till the end of his career despite offers from big Calcutta clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. With CBI, he won the Harwood League title many times and played in the Rovers Cup.

Prasannan (kneeling second from right) with India team for 1974 Merdeka Cup in Malaysia (TK Chathunni’s collection)

“In those days there were so many teams like Bank of India, Mafatlal, Orkay Mills, Bank of Baroda. Prasanna used to help young footballers find a job with these teams. That’s his quality,” Chathunni, who played for Vasco and Orkay teams in Goa and Maharashtra and later went on to coach many successful teams like Salgaocar and Kerala Police, told indianexpress.com on Thursday.

After his playing days were over, Prasannan completed a coaching course at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Bangalore. He later coached Maharashtra and made them runners-up in a Santosh Trophy tournament.

Prasannan is survived by his wife Asha and sons Shanod and Sooraj.

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