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EB@100: Mamata hails club's 'historic' journey

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated East Bengal and wished the club would bring more laurels to the country as it marked a century of its existence in the football arena on Thursday.

"East Bengal Club turns 100 and touches a new milestone. Journeying through long, long years ever since July 1920, the East Bengal Club is now celebrating its centenary.

"The red and gold colour of East Bengal has been a passion among millions of followers over generations and has been a pride of Bengal and the entire country. Legendary personalities and outstanding footballers have been associated with the club over these long years and have contributed remarkably to winning innumerable trophies and laurels for the club and great honour for the football-loving community.

"It is indeed a moment of nostalgia, something to cherish with love, joy and passion for every East Bengal fan," Banerjee said. Coming down heavily on a recent tweet, she said the remarks about the East Bengal club were "disrespectful".

A controversy broke out when the tweet asked East Bengal supporters if they had ever wondered why they were with that club while being in Bengal. She said: "After listening to this, I feel ashamed. We are proud of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting and their supporters."

She added: "Some people feel people from East Bengal can only support the club. There is difference between people of West Bengal and East Bengal." She said these relationships were beyond all geographic boundaries. Describing the occasion as "historic", she said the centenary year programmes would continue for a year. The foundation day event on Thursday saw a galaxy of stars, with India's two iconic former cricket captains, Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly, sharing the dias with Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri. Kapil Dev, India's first World Cup-winning captain, received East Bengal's highest honour, 'Bharat Gaurav'. Banerjee also added: "Durand Cup is starting from tomorrow (Friday) and taking place for the first time in Bengal. It is a matter of great pride."

Veteran Olympian Pradip Banerjee was bestowed with the 'Coach of the Century' award. Actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who is a long-time friend of PK, was also present.

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