Following his influential winger’s departure from the club, Khel Now takes a trip down memory lane to reflect his time in Kolkata.

When for the first time I heard that a Haitian player will be joining Mohun Bagan from Bangladeshi club Sheikh Jamal, I was excited. Now, years on, and I never imagined that his departure will leave me and all the supporters teary-eyed. I have seen him in practice sessions and also in matches, I always felt that he has this different kind of aura around him. He always took time to help and support the younger players and was gradually becoming a fan-favourite.

This four-year bond with the Haitian Magician was truly amazing and every time the team was in trouble, I was always assuring myself that until the time Sony Norde is on the pitch we still have a chance. That belief is what Sony Norde is all about. He is a true fighter and he is one of our own.

He is Sony Norde. A name which is etched in the hearts of every Mohun Bagan fan. Sony may have left the club for treatment on his injury and will take some time to return, but every time the fans will go to the stadium to watch the team, they will miss the 28-year-old Haitian. The supporters at the Kolkata Maidan support all their foreign players with all their heart and soul, but not every foreigner can make them cry. 

Norde broke into tears following his last press conference at the club premises

The Mariners have experienced this with Jose Ramirez Barreto earlier. Barreto is considered the best foreigner to don the Green and Maroon jersey. But after Barreto, Norde has been another iconic foreigner for the century-old club. Sony Norde joined Mohun Bagan from Sheikh Jamal in 2014 and since then he has been the heartbeat for the club and the supporters.

I have seen Norde up close and apart from being a talisman for the club, he is an even better human being. His stay at the Kolkata based club saw him lift the I-league trophy and even the Federation Cup under veteran coach Sanjoy Sen. Football in Kolkata is always free-flowing, people here are passionate to some another level and they love their club like their own mother. So the players get a lot of support and love playing football in the City of Joy. But only a few names remain etched in the supporters’ hearts, the very latest of which being the Haitian magician, Norde.

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Norde’s presence in the field wearing that Green Maroon always gave us hope that we can overcome each and every difficulty that comes in our way. His never die spirit was not only for the 90 minutes but beyond. Some people even got so much inspired by the Haitian that they overcame the difficulties they had in their life. At the end of the day that’s what football is, we just don’t fill up the stands to watch or get entertained. 

Sony Norde is only a footballer to many but he is an idol of inspiration for the Mariners. The team and the fans always believed that the team may be in dire straits but when Norde is on the field anything is possible. Even Norde had it in him, his aura was so inspiring that it made people fall in love with him. Those silky touches, those scintillating runs through the flanks, those power-packed freekick goals, the Mariners can’t forget anything. 

That love and desperation for Mohun Bagan was seen in his eyes right till the last day at the press conference as tears rolled down his cheeks. He is one of us, his love for the club is nothing less than us. Even on his last day he told, “Mohun Bagan can be compared with other clubs in the world but Mohun Bagan supporters cannot be compared.” 

The Mariners’ fans decided to show up wearing Sony Norde face masks in the last Kolkata Derby

I still remember the day I heard that he cannot continue with his injury and wanted to move away for treatment, it was shocking and I was in disbelief. But that’s how life is and that’s what Norde and Mohun Bagan club has taught me that one should always keep believing. The first few days it was a very emotional moment for the Mariners, but they also understood his situation. So on the final Derby day, 20,000 supporters arranged masks of Sony Norde and they wore it during the match to give him a tribute, one final memory to cherish. 

With a heavy heart, we bid him farewell, but the love story isn’t over yet as he has told his fellow supporters that he will be back after achieving full fitness. We here in Kolkata consider our club as our mother and with Sony Norde’s departure, one can say, Mohun Bagan, lost her favourite child. Hopefully, the love story will continue and hope to see a lot of success in future seasons under his captaincy. 

Goodbye Haitian Magician! You will be missed!