Hyderabad: Indian football is in mourning as the nation bids farewell to a true legend, Mohammed Habib, who passed away at the age of 74 after battling dementia and Parkinson’s syndrome. Habib, renowned for his exceptional skills on the field, made a mark both nationally and internationally, capturing the hearts of football enthusiasts around the world. He is survived by his wife, four daughters, and a son.
Having carved a significant place for himself in Kolkata’s football history, Habib shifted to Hyderabad a few years ago. Unfortunately, his health declined over the years, and he spent the last year bedridden due to his debilitating ailments. His journey came to an end on Tuesday around 4 p.m. at his residence in Toli Chowki, Hyderabad.
Born on July 17, 1949, in Hyderabad, Habib’s football career spanned a decade, from 1965 to 1975, during which he donned the Indian jersey with pride. He was an integral part of the remarkable generation that secured a bronze medal for India at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok. Led by his fellow statemate Syed Nayeemuddin, with legendary P. K. Banerjee as the manager, the team’s success elevated Indian football on the global stage.
Habib’s international career saw him represent India in 35 matches, during which he netted 11 goals. His journey commenced with his debut against Thailand in the Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1967.
A revered figure on Kolkata’s football grounds, Habib’s nimble footwork made him a force to be reckoned with. During his illustrious 17-year domestic career, he proudly played for all three Kolkata giants: East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, and Mohammedan Sporting Club.
The football community fondly referred to the diminutive Hyderabadi forward as ‘Bade Miyan.’ He garnered comparisons to the Brazilian legend Pele and was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1980 for his contributions to the sport.
While born in Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana), Habib also represented Bengal in domestic competitions. He played an instrumental role in Bengal’s victory at the Santosh Trophy in 1969, emerging as the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals.
Habib’s trophy-laden career is evident in his multiple accolades. He secured the Santosh Trophy five times and clinched numerous titles with clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, including the Calcutta Football League, Durand Cup, Rovers Cup, and Federation Cup.
Beyond his playing career, Habib delved into coaching roles and mentored talents at the Tata Football Academy and the Indian Football Association academy in Haldia, West Bengal. He also contributed his coaching prowess to clubs like Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting.