Pradip Kumar Banerjee was the captain of the Indian football team that contested at the Rome Olympic Games in 1960. He famously scored a goal in a match against France, which ended in a 1-1 draw. He was also a member of the 1956 squad that played at the Melbourne Olympics. He played in three Asian Games and Mardeka tournament in Malaysia. He was also a successful coach and brought several trophies to East Bengal and Mohun Bagan football clubs.
His inspiration to the players, called “vocal tonic”, is still a favourite term in Kolkata football circles. He was also a noted football commentator and the first Indian footballer to be honoured with Arjuna Award in 1961.
In spite of all his laurels in the football arena, Banerjee was a dutiful son, a responsible elder brother, caring husband and a loving father. Banerjee is also famous as a table talker. A lover of music and cinema, he has friends belonging to all walks of life. His brother Prasun Banerjee, who also captained India, is now a Trinamool Congress MP from Howrah. Pradip had to look for a job as he had to look after his large family, comprising his parents, brothers and sisters, and joined the Eastern Railway.
His day started early with football practice at the Eastern railway ground in Sealdah. He played for Eastern Railway and Aryan club and both the teams often put a stiff fight in the Calcutta Football League. A brilliant striker, Banerjee could run with the ball very fast. His ball control and dribbling skills were phenomenal.
Post-retirement, he received a shock after the demise of his wife Arati. He condition worsened after he suffered a stroke. Despite ill health, his zest for life is well-known and his qualities have made him a legend of Indian football.