Andhra Pradesh has been a source of top footballers and coaches in the last six-to-seven decades, most prominently during the golden period (the 1950s and the 1960s).
Most of the national cups also went to the state in the 1950s and the 1960s. Hyderabad won the Santosh Trophy in 1956,1957 and Andhra won it in 1965. Hyderabad Police won an unprecedented five Rovers Cup title in a row between 1950-1954 before clinching the title again in 1957, 1960, 1962 and 1963. They also won the Durand Cup in 1950, 1954, 1957 and 1961.
We take a look at some of the legends to have emerged from the state.
The Nizam from Hyderabad who ruled Kolkata in the 1970s, Mohammad Habib is widely respected and hailed as one of the best players to have played for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The striker joined East Bengal in 1966 and swapped kits for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan several times before retiring with the Mariners in 1984.
Habib represented the national team for 10 years between 1965 and 1975. He was known for his tremendous mental strength and determination and was praised heavily by the national team manager at that time - the legendary PK Banerjee.
In 1980, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award for his incredible contribution to Indian football.
Some become fine players and some become good managers, Syed Nayeemuddin was both. The Hyderabadi defender was an integral part of Kolkata and Indian football in the 1960s and the 1970s. He started his career at East Bengal in 1966 but went on to represent Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan at different instances in his career.
Nayeemuddin was a regular face in the national team and even captained the side in the late 1960s. In 1970, India won the bronze medal in the Asian Games under his captaincy.
In 1982, the retired footballer began his coaching career at Mohammedan. He also coached both the Bengal giants and completed three stints with the national team. In 1977, the Blue Tigers won the SAFF Championship and reached the semi-final of the Nehru Cup with Nayeemuddin at the helm. However, his third stint between 2005-2006 was not as rewarding.
Nayeemuddin boasts of a rare feat of winning the Arjuna award as player and Dronacharya award as a coach.
Another name from India's golden era, Noor Mohammad was a tenacious attacker who represented the country in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics at Helsinki and Melbourne respectively.
The Andhra-born was not the most gifted or talented player but his strength, stamina and robust nature made him a valuable asset to the team. He was known for his determination and mental toughness that allowed him to compete at the highest level even at the age of 35. Thanks to his persistence and an incredible footballing brain, Noor enjoyed a consistent form throughout his career.
A name that struck fear in the hearts of defenders in the 1960s, Tulsidas Balaram was one of the most complete players of that era. A deadly forward on the international front, he played a key role in India's Asian Games triumph in 1962. The Secunderabad-born was known for his versatility and incredible playmaking abilities despite playing upfront. His distribution and eye for a pass were seldom matched.
At the club level, he was faithful to the Red and Gold. Balaram captained East Bengal to a double over Mohun Bagan in 1961. However, despite the Mariners' best attempts to sign him, the inside forward stayed loyal to their rivals.
Unfortunately, he was subject to early retirement in 1963 due to health issues and India felt his absence immediately in the Asian Games the following year. Balaram's career spanned short but his impact was everlasting.
Syed Abdus Salam
The back-bone of the defence-line during the golden period, Syed Abdus Salam was hailed for being one of the most consistent players of that time. The Best Defender Award that he won at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics speaks volumes of his prowess.
Like most greats from his sport, Salam spent most of his career in Bengal. He led Mohammedan to the CFL and IFA Shield title in 1957. After his decorated career, the defender took up coaching and guided the U-19 team to the summit of the 1974 Asian Youth U-19 Cup. They were crowned joint winners with Iran.
Salam later took up a coaching role at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh.
Syed Khwaja Azizuddin
One of the best defenders of the 1950s, Andhra Pradesh-born Syed Khwaja Azizuddin was a familiar face in the national team in all international competitions during this period. He was a playing member of the squad that won the 1951 Asian Games. He also captained the side in the quadrangular tournament that they won in Dacca in 1955.
At the club level, Azizuddin started with National Sporting Club and represented Hyderabad in the Santosh Trophy from 1949-1960. He was also captain of the side when they won the trophy on successive occasions between 1956-1958.
Azizuddin was known for his ability to win aerial duels, set off counter-attacks with accurate cross-field balls and impeccable positioning. He was also an ambidextrous player who provided a lot of options tactically.
Syed Abdul Rahim
India was lucky to enjoy a golden generation of players in the 1950s and 1960s and had one of the best Asian sides in the two decades. However, it takes a great captain to steer a majestic ship and the country was lucky to have master tactician Syed Abdul Rahim at the helm. The Hyderabad-born is still considered one of the best managers to have coached the national team.
Rahim revolutionised the way India played, opting for a short passing game over physicality. He was also famous for his incredible man-managing skills and his motivational speeches that spurred the team on during the toughest of times. India performed well in all the international competitions in the 1950s and was finally rewarded with silverware when they won the 1962 Asian Games.
Rahim remains one of the biggest footballing brains that the country has produced.
A prolific striker from the 1950s, SK Moinuddin represented India in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and the 1954 Manila Asian Games. India was unfortunate to be drawn in a tough group in the latter tournament. However, a 3-2 win over Japan in which Moinuddin scored a brace provided them with a great chance of progressing to the semis. But Thailand won 4-0 in the next Group Stage game to eliminate India.
Moinuddin played for the Hyderabad City Police team and was part of the squad that won trophies and supporters all over the country in the 1950s.
Hyderabad boasted of an incredibly talented and hard-working group in the 1950s, as evidenced by their famous triumph in the Santosh Trophy in 1956. Ahmed Hussain was yet another crucial element in the Hyderabad and the Indian national team that achieved a lot in that decade.
The defender was also part of the Olympics team that put on a fantastic show in Melbourne (1956) where they thrashed Australia 4-2 to eventually finish fourth in the tournament.
The man guarding the sticks during most of India's golden period, Hyderabad-born Peter Thangaraj was inarguably the best goalkeeper in Asia at his peak. He played for Morning Star Club and Friends Union Club of Secunderabad during the early stages of his career. He represented the country in the 1956, 1960 Olympics and was named the best Asian Goalkeeper in 1958.
In 1960, Peter led Services to their first-ever Santosh Trophy win. He then attracted the eyeballs of the top clubs in the country and went on to spend a few seasons with Mohammedan, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. In 1963, he represented the Bengal team that won the Santosh Trophy.
The ace goalkeeper was part of the Indian team that won the 1962 Asian Games and also played in the following two editions. In 1967, Peter won the Arjuna Award to top what was an incredible playing career for club and country. He eventually retired from football in 1971.
Secunderabad-born Dharmalingam Kannan was part of one of the fiercest front-lines in Indian history. The roster of the 1960 Rome Olympics boasted of big names such as PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, Mouhammed Yousuf, Tulsidas Balaram and Kannan.
At the club level, Kannan plied his trade for East Bengal and was famous for his incredibly powerful shots. He also played for Bengal, Hyderabad and Railways in the Santosh Trophy.
A dominant footballing figure in Andhra Pradhesh, Mohammed Zulfiqaruddin was a forward who captained the state in the Santosh Trophy for 12 years between 1955-67. He also won the IFA Shield, Durand Cup and Rovers Cup tournaments with the AP Police team between 1954-1967.
Zulfiqaruddin was part of the 1956 Olympics team that famously finished fourth at Melbourne after losing 3-0 to Bulgaria in the Bronze medal match.
Andhra Pradesh boasted strong representation in India's golden period and Yousaf Khan is yet another name on the list. "The Galloping Horse of Indian football" was known for his immense work-rate and ability to control the midfield. At the club level, he plied his trade for the Hyderabad City Police team.
Yousaf was a 1960 Rome Olympian and a gold medalist at the 1962 Asian Games. He is one of the only two players - the other being Peter Thangaraj - to have been included in the Asian All Stars XI in 1965. In 1966, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award for his incredible consistency across a successful career.
Habibul Hasan Hamid
An 18-year-old talented forward at the time, Habibul Hasan Hamid was among the youngest in the squad that competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He rubbed shoulders with the big guns at that time and was seen as a promising striker.
Hamid also represented the country in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in which they were subjected to a second-round exit, courtesy of a thrashing at the hands of Asian powerhouse Iran.
Syed Shahid Hakim
Son of the legendary coach Syed Abdul Rahim, Syed Shahid Hakim is also a unique name on the list. As a player, he wore the national colours in the 1960 Rome Olympics. However, he is better known for his refereeing career.
After a playing career spanning 25 years, Hakim took to refereeing in order to stay in touch with the game. He officiated 33 international games including the 1988 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. He was conferred with the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award for Life Time Achievement in Sports and Games in 2017.
Shabbir Ali is yet another illustrious name to emerge from the state of Andhra Pradesh. Considered one of the finest strikers in his time, Shabbir was rated among the best in India during the 1970s and 80s.
He was a prolific goalscorer at both national and international level, scoring more than 30 goals for India. One of his finest moment was when he captained India to victory in the Asian Youth championships in Bangkok in 1974 where they were announced joint-winners with Iran. At club level, he has played for the likes of Hyderabad Arsenal, Tata Sports Club, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.
He also has scored the fastest international hat-trick by an Indian when he did so in 35 minutes against Indonesia at the 1976 Merdeka Cup.
He was also an accomplished coach, leading Mohammedan to several cups and establishing them as one of the best teams in the country in the early 1990s. He has also served as the Technical Director of the Indian team. He had success coaching Peerless SC, Salgaocar and won several titles with the latter.
He was awarded the Dhyan Chand Award for his contribution to Indian football in 2011.