Narendra Thapa, the star forward who became one of the biggest names of Indian football in the 1980s, passed away on Friday.
Thapa suffered a cardiac arrest in his sleep and passed away before he could be taken to hospital, said his former national teammate and Food Corporation of India colleague, Aloke Mukherjee. The immensely popular forward was 58 years old at the time of his death.
Thapa began his career early in the 80s and became highly regarded for his skill and canniness as a forward. He became one of the favourite pupils of the legendary coach Ciric Milovan, who was at the helm of the National team during the 1984-1985 seasons. Thapa made his national team debut in 1983 and played 29 matches for the country. He scored three goals for the National side. Thapa made headlines when he scored the lone goal in India’s 1-0 triumph over Algeria in the 1984 Great Wall Cup in Beijing.
In the professional sphere, Thapa became a star as all the big clubs in Kolkata went after him. This saw the brawny forward enjoying stints with all the three giants of the city – Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting – at different times of his career.
“Narendra Thapa was a gentleman in the true sense of the term and was respected for his temperament. He was an exceptional striker with a rare combination of skill, speed and stamina,” said one of his national and club team colleagues, Krishnendu Roy.
Condoling his death, the All India Football Federation’s acting general secretary Sunando Dhar noted, “It is sad to hear that Mr. Thapa is no more. He was a key player in the Indian team during his time, and his contribution to Indian Football can never be forgotten. He has been an inspiring figure for people across generations.”