Bengaluru, March 20: India's legendary footballer Pradip Kumar Banerjee, affectionately known as PK Banerjee, breathed his last in a hospital in Kolkata on Friday (March 20) after battling a prolonged illness. He was 83.
In a stellar career, Banerjee or 'Pradip-da', as he was fondly known among his peers, scored 65 international goals from 84 appearances for the national team.
The 1962 Asian Games gold-medallist, whose best days as a striker coincided with the golden era of Indian football, was suffering from respiratory problems due to pneumonia. He also had an underlying history of Parkinson's disease, dementia and heart problems.
Banerjee is survived by daughters Paula and Purna, who are renowned academicians, while his younger brother Prasun Banerjee is a sitting Trinamool Congress MP.
He was on life support at hospital in Kolkata since March 2 and breathed his last at 12.40pm IST, a family source told PTI news agency.
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.
Besides winning the gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games in 1992, Banerjee led India in the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he scored the equalizer against a formidable French team in a 1-1 draw.
Before that, Banerjee represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a key role in their 4-2 win over Australia in the quarterfinals.
Banerjee's contribution to Indian football was duly recognised by the world governing body -- FIFA -- that awarded him the Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) condoled the death of the legend.
"It's sad to hear that Pradip-da, one of India's greatest footballers, is no more. His contribution to Indian football will never be forgotten. I share the grief," said AIFF President Praful Patel.
"He'll stay synonymous with the golden generation of Indian football. Pradip-da, you'll remain alive in our hearts," the AIFF President added.
As a mark of respect, the AIFF flag is kept half-mast at the AIFF headquarters -- the Football House -- in Dwarka, New Delhi.
"Mr Pradip Kumar Banerjee will be alive in his achievements. He was a legendary footballer and someone who has been an inspiration to so many generations. May he Rest in Peace."
"Post his retirement he scouted and coached a whole generation of Indian footballers, both on the International, and domestic level. It's a huge loss for Indian football," said AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das.
(with PTI/ AIFF Media inputs)