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Remembering Gostha Pal, the Chinese Wall of Indian football

Published at :August 20, 2023 at 11:30 PM
Modified at :August 20, 2023 at 11:36 PM
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Analoy Majumder

Nicknamed " The Chinese Wall", Gostha Pal was the first captain of Indian National Football Team

Gostha Pal made his football debut with the Kumartuli Club in Kolkata when he was just eleven years old. Gostho Pal was born on August 20, 1896, in Faridpur. He was discovered by Kalicharan Mitra, one of the two Indian members of the India Football Association's (IFA) governing body. Due to his skill as a strong centre-back, he joined Mohun Bagan in 1913, two years after the club had won the IFA shield by defeating a British team.

The former Indian captain opposed the tendency of attackers like Shibdas Bhadhuri and Chhone Mazumdar getting the spotlight when playing for Mohun Bagan. India, since then, discovered another hero in Gostho Pal, a defender who defied tradition and became the focus of attention by giving a new focus to the Indian football, receiving the title "The Chinese Wall" from many football fans and enthusiasts.

Gostha Pal and Mohun Bagan

Gostha Pal appeared in the club's first-ever division match against the Calcutta Football Club in 1915. The squad finished fourth in the Calcutta Football League in that season. Pal was the club's captain by 1921 and that is when he led the side to the finals of the India Football Association (IFA) Shield Trophy, where they became runners-up against Calcutta FC.

Gostha Pal gained national recognition when his team participated in the Rovers Cup in Mumbai, in 1923. Mohun Bagan (now Mohun Bagan Super Giants) encroached the party of the English teams to reach the final, the first-ever by an Indian team, but lost against a technically superior club Durham Light Infantry. Pal's leadership talents, ability to read a game, and solid defensive qualities demonstrated against vastly greater opponents were a rare combination in football that time.

Gostha Pal's legacy lives on

The postage stamp dedicated to Pal, unveiled by India Post in 1988 (Source: Wikipedia)

Known as "The Chinese Wall of India," Pal, is one of the best defenders in Indian football at that time, gained recognition as one of the most prominent players in the nation's history and the team's longest-serving captain. In addition to having a life-size statue erected in his honour in Kolkata Maidan opposite to the Eden Gardens in 1984, Gostha Pal was awarded the Padma Shri in 1962 which is the highest civilian award in India. For to the level of his reputation, he was the first football player from India to be honored with a postage stamp.

In 2004, Mohun Bagan AC honored him Mohun Bagan Ratna which the club's highest honour. Gostha Pal was one of India's early football stars and he will live on in the hearts and minds of all football fans in our country for many years to come as because many fans still believe him to be one of the "birth givers" of Indian football.