9/18/2018 12:33:37 PM (GMT+3)

Former India star footballer Latifuddin passes away

Former India star footballer Latifuddin passes away

NEW DELHI: Former India international Latifuddin Najam passed away in Hyderabad this morning following a brief illness. He was 65.

During his prime in the 70s, he had stints at Mohammedan Sporting and East Bengal and was regarded as one of the finest wingers.

“Najam bhai was not only a handsome person, he was equally an outstanding footballer,” former India captain Victor Amalraj told khelupdates from Hyderabad. “I have the honour of playing alongside with him at Mohammedan Sporting in 1978 and 1979 seasons in Calcutta. He would forever be remember as a gentleman on and off the field.”

Football was in Latifuddin’s blood -- his father Syed Khwaja Moinuddin was one of the legends from the city, who played at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics while his brother Shujaat also played with him in Calcutta.

“Akbar bhai (Mohammad Akbar) was inconsolable when he broke the news to me this morning. It’s really sad to lose him. He used to be present at our annual get together of Hyderabadi footballers. It’s a sad feeling that he won’t be there next time,” added Amalraj, who had also captained Sporting, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the 80s.  

The Hyderabadi was one of the most skillful wingers and was rated very high by his team-mates and coaches under whom he had played in Calcutta.

“The greatest memory was to score the equaliser against Iran in the 1974 Asian Junior Championship final. Not many people gave us a chance but we had self-belief and earned a 2-2 draw,” Latifuddin had said in an interview last year.

Last year, he was conferred with Shaan-e-Mohammedan (life-time achievement award) for his contribution.

During that short stay in Calcutta, where he was revered as a ‘good-looking’ footballer, Latifuddin had expressed his disappointment for unable to win the league with the club in 1975.

“I thought we had the best team that year and all of us were in good form, but one bad match finished it all,” he had said.