Indian Football: 'Asian Pele' P. Kannan passes away

The Tamil Nadu-born played for both the Kolkata giants, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the 60s and 70s...

Former India international Poongam Kannan breathed his last on Sunday at a Kolkata hospital. Admitted earlier this month after suffering a stroke, the 80-year-old passed away after a long battle with various diseases over the last decade.

Kannan, who plied as a forward during his playing days is survived by his wife and two daughters. He represented the national team 5 times (2 goals) and was a part of India's squad at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games and 1968 Merdeka Cup.

It was former Bayern Munich manager and the West German national team's assistant coach Dettmar Cramer that bestowed upon him the title of 'Asian Pele'. The support staff member of the 1974 World Cup-winning team was mighty impressed with Kannan, when he was invited to India by the All India Football Federation.

P Kannan Mohun Bagan

Hailing from Vandavasi in Tamil Nadu, Kannan came to Kolkata and was snapped up by Mohun Bagan. He was a part of the Mariners' sides for seven years (1966, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975), helping the Green and Maroons lift the Rovers Cup twice, in 1967 and 1971.

Kannan also turned out for East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Howrah Union for a season each. Kannan also represented Bengal in the Santosh Trophy, winning successive titles in 1972 and 1973 after winning it first in 1966.

P Kannan Arumainayagam Asoke Chatterjee Amal Chakraborty Mohun Bagan

During his time in Kolkata, he scored 84 goals for Mohun Bagan, 14 goals for East Bengal, and 12 goals for Mohammedan Sporting.

Earlier, he also had stints in Bengaluru where he also played for the Mysore Santosh Trophy team, winning the national title in 1965. In his final days as a professional football, Kannan settled in Chennai, playing for Universal RC before hanging up his boots in 1982.

However, Kannan returned back to Kolkata, the city in which he shot to fame, to settle with his family after retirement. Kannan worked for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Southern Railway but did not get any pension as his family struggled financially.