August, 2007: Bhupender Rawat turned 66 this month. And it was an emotional moment for him. Rawat visited the state capital to celebrate his birthday among his old friends. He considers his visit to Dehradun a pilgrimage as he started to play football here. Footballer Bhupender Rawat holds the unique distinction of scoring the highest goals in one Durand Cup. He scored 12 goals in six matches in the 1966 Durand to become the highest scorer in the oldest football tournament of the country. Mohammed Habib of East Bengal equalled Rawat's record in 1972.
But Rawat's achievement is yet to find mention in the football records book of the country. This is because in the Limca Book of Records, the record for highest goals in one Durand Cup stands in the name of Mohammed Habib of East Bengal Club. Mohammed Habib scored 12 goals in seven matches in the 1972 Durand Cup. Limca Book authorities have admitted the mistake and will include Bhupender Rawat's name in the new edition.
The 1966 Durand Cup belonged to local Bhupender Rawat of the Gorkha Brigade, posted here at that time. He played a key role in the titlevictory of the Gorkha Brigade. Rawat scored 12 goals in six matches of the Durand Cup 1966. He scored two goals each against the Sikh Regiment, Mohammedan Sporting and Leaders Club. Four against RAC, Bikaner. One, each, against Mohun Bagan and New Delhi Heroes. Making it 12 goals in six matches of the Durand Cup 1966.
Commenting on Bhupender's class, famous sports writer Novy Kapadia says,"Bhupender Rawat was known as 'scooter', as he was small but very fast and elusive. He was a good goal-poacher and scored many goals through quick placements and tap-ins by darting into the box to meet low crosses. Speed was his forte." Novy witnessed the 1966 Durand Cup. 'The Times of India' (January 11, 1966) declared Bhupender Rawat the most popular player of Durand 1966.
Sports journalists ran out of adjectives to narrate the impressive form of Bhupender. Reporting about the 1966 Durand Cup, the Statesman (January 17, 1966) writes, "This time, Rawat was undoubtedly the brightest, a touch player raking up odd memories of the famous Neville D' Souza. His feet are presumably endowed with brains.""Rawat ended with a bag of 12 goals, including the two beauties of the final, " the Statesman concludes.
Lauding Rawat's skills Deccan Herald writes, "Forget this match (final between Gorkha Brigade and Sikh Regiment). Think of the future of the Indian football! You have in Rawat a bubbling center-forward who can take us places in world football." The Durand 1966 is still fresh in the memory of Bhupender Rawat. Recalling it, he says, "My best goal was a full-stretch diving header against Mohun Bagan in the semi final. I was able to score twelve goals in that tourney because of teammates like Amar Bahadur, Tika Ram and Ranjit Thapa, who used to feed me the perfect passes." Bhupender Rawat is presently working as a coach in the Mohun Bagan SAIL Football Academy (Durgapur, WB).