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Ram Bahadur: Dehradun's Dynamite

Ram Bahadur, the Dehradun Dynamite Footballer Gorkha

Known as the ‘Dehradun Dyanmite’ in the maidans of Kolkata, Ram Bahadur was one of the greatest midfielder produced by India. Exquisite touches, nimble foot movements along with majestic ball control were some of the traits of the diminutive midfielder who started his football career with Amar Jyoti Football Club in Dehradun in 1954. Despite representing Uttar Pradesh for two consecutive years, it was his performance in 1956 DCM Cup in Delhi for Vijay Cantt Club that launched the midfielder into national stage. Bahadur’s gameplay caught the attention of East Bengal’s manager J.C. Guha who immediately offered him a contract with India’s elite club. “For me it was a dream to play for India’s biggest club East Bengal and after JC Guha offered me the contract there was no looking back”, remarked Ram Bahadur.

That was the start of Ram Bahadur’s association with East Bengal which lasted an incredible eleven years until 1967 before the midfielder decided to hang his boots from the beautiful game. “Ram Bahadur love for the red and gold shirt was amazing.” remarked Shyam Thapa, former East Bengal and Indian international. It was in 1958 when Bahadur rejected the advances of Mohun Bagan to commit his career with East Bengal. “I signed in front of Secretary Mantoo Ghosh that I will only play for East Bengal until the end of my footballing career”. Bahadur was awarded the midfielder of the Millennium by the club in January 2000 for his service to the famous institution and was also made the captain of the side three times during his career.

Ram Bahadur’s best performance in red and gold outfit came in 1957 against Mohammedan Sporting. Despite receiving a serious injury on his head after collision with Mohammedan player Salim, Bahadur played the whole game and made around half a dozen goal line clearances. East Bengal ultimately went on to win the match 3-0 with goals from Tapash Bose and Moosah. At the end of the game, Bahadur laid senseless on ground with his head fully draped in blood. Remarking on Ram Bahadur’s gutsy performance, noted Calcutta football personality and East Bengal recruiter, Late Jiban Chakraborty said, "I never saw Ram Bahadur play a bad game in eleven years for the club. Such was his consistency and talent that he was like a wall in the midfield".

One of the famous on field rivalries that highlighted the derby clash between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in early 60’s was that of Ram Bahadur and Chuni Goswami. Both legends of Indian football were part of some of the exciting and breathtaking on field battles much to the excitement of spectators. Remarking on the famous derby clash between two sides in 1966, Prasun Banerjee, former India captain said, “I was a little boy and I had went with my father to Eastbengal ground, to saw the match between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. I can still remember that Ram Bahadur played a brilliant game against Bagan. Ram Bahadur Covered Chuni Ghoswami so tightly that he could not touch the ball and as a result Bagan lost the match by a goal. In 1966 Chuni Ghoswami was in great form but I think Ram Bahadur's covering and blocking was excellent”.

Within two years of joining the Calcutta outfit, Bahadur made his debut for the Indian national team in 1958 at Olympics qualifying matches in Kabul. He was also part of the 1960 Rome Olympics National team led by P.K. Banerjee. The Indian team which drew 1-1 against France, ultimately went out of the competition in the group stages. Ram Bahadur’s performances in left midfield for India earned him the eulogies of “China Wall” and “Rubber Doll”. Thereafter he donned India colors in the Gold medal winning 1962 Asian Games side where he won wide acclaims for his calmness and temper. “He was always smiling. Even in the most difficult situation, I have never seen him loose his temper”, remarked P.K. Banerjee on Bahadur’s jovial and calm headed approach to the game. In fact, Bahadur had never been cautioned during his career both for the club and country.

Ram Bahadur ultimately hanged up his boots from the game in 1967 after 11 years of professional career with six consecutive years of international football for India. After which he served as coach at ONGC and was involved in coaching football talent in the country until his sad demise in December 2000 in Vadodara. “He was an excellent friend and a very good person. Whatever was the situation the trademark smile never abandoned him and he was never nervous. He was the one who always kept the dressing room alive,” summarized P.K. Banerjee on one of the most famous sons of Indian football.

 

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