Gostha Pal was an excellent Football Player from India, and formed a strong basis for the success of Indian Football team at the international level in later years. He was a very famous defender and used to play barefooted.
He was born on 20th of August 1896 in Faridpur District of Bengal. Pal began playing the game of Football at a very early age, and at the age of just 11 years he joined the Kumartuli Club of Calcutta (Now Kolkata) in the year 1907, and played for it for 6 years.
The well known Football player Rajen Sen helped Gostha in joining Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, which had won the I.F.A. Shield one year ago. Gostha joined Mohun Bagan in the year 1913 and continuously played for the same club for a span of 23 years, till 1936. One year after his joining Mohun Bagan, the club had been awarded a First Division League status.
Gostha was made the Captain of Mohun Bagan in the year 1921, and led the team till the year 1926. By the time he reached the age of 25 years, Pal had made a name for himself as a strong defender owing to his wonderful skills. He played from the Right Back position, and people used to compare him with the Great Wall of China, honoring his defensive capabilities. It is famous that once when he visited Shantiniketan, even Rabindranath Tagore, the famous poet was excited to see him and promptly remarked “Yes you truly are the Chinese wall!”
He was selected as the Captain of the Indian Football team which went to play its first overseas Football match in the year 1924. He also led the Indian Football team to Sri Lanka in the year 1933, and India defeated Sri Lanka by 1-0.
The Controversial Retirement
He left Mohun Bagan in the year 1936 when he eventually retired from his Football career, and his retirement took place in quite a dramatic way. A match was being played between Mohun Bagan and Calcutta Club in 1936. Calcutta Club was known to be a British favoring club, and was supported by the British Raj. The referee of the match was a British himself, Mr. Clayton and he was completely biased towards the Calcutta Club during the match. It is said that whenever any Mohun Bagan player would enter the penalty box of the Calcutta Club, the referee used to promptly blow the whistle. All this was annoying the Mohun Bagan team including the Captain Gostha Pal, and the team lay down in the ground as a protest to the prejudice. Although the protest paid them off, it was taken as an insult by the Indian Football Association (IFA) which was primarily controlled by the British rule. Hence, Gostha Pal had to leave the game of Football for his life, which caused him to retire from the game in a sudden and shocking manner.
Gostha Pal was the first Indian Football player who was honored with the Padma Shri award in the year 1962 by the Government of India. He was also bestowed upon the Mohun Bagan Ratna award as an honor to the services he contributed to the club. Apart from it, a statue of him was erected right in front of Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and the Government of India issued a Postage Stamp in his honor in the year 1998. The Football legend passed away on the 8th of April 1976 at Kolkata.