THROWBACK: When East Bengal FC became the first Indian team to defeat a foreign opponent to win a trophy post Independence!

Published by Sabyasachi C on

Last Updated 12:51 AM 30th April 2020 .

Over the past 100 years, East Bengal Football Club has been one of the most glorious institutions in the country, bringing in resounding fame and numerous accolades through different generations, which has made the millions of fans all across the world to rejoice and boast with pride.

We will here recall one such glorious moment from the history books when East Bengal FC defeated PAS Club of Iran in the 1970 IFA Shield Final and became the very first Indian club to defeat a foreign opponent post the independence of India and win a major trophy in front of a massive 80,000 crowd the at the Eden Gardens.

East Bengal 1970 squad, PAS Club team (offset)

Iran as we all are aware have always been a powerhouse of Asian Football and with clubs like Taj Tehran (now Esteghlal FC), Persepolis, PAS Tehran Club, they have dominated the Asian Football competitions since forever. The Iran’s national team were the Champions of Asian Cup in 1968 and 1972 with players like Asghar Sharafi, Mehdi Monajati, Hassan Habibi etc. who were members of the PAS Club from Tehran.

The PAS Club was one of the dominant forces of Iranian Football in the late 60s and 70s, winning the Tehran Football League (Iran’s top flight until 1973) twice in 1967 and 1968. They were invited by the IFA to take part in the 1970 IFA Shield tournament and with a team of superstars from the national team, the Iranian team landed in Calcutta as favourites.

PAS Club team that won back to back Tehran League

As expected, the highly skilled nd powerful Iranians dashed into the final of the tournament defeating everyone on the way where they were to face the Red and Gold brigade, led by Santo Mitra and coached by Mohammed Hussain, who became the unbeaten champions of the Calcutta Football League just a few months back.

East Bengal Club had built a strong team in 1970 with likes of Peter Thangaraj, Shyam Thapa, Sudhir Karmakar, Ashok Chatterjee, Santo Mitra, Mohammed Habib, Parimal Dey etc. that would eventually become the foundation for their golden generation for few years to come.

Ashok Chatterjee with Hassan Habibi

Ashok Chatterjee with Hassan Habibi

The Red and Gold brigade always had a reputation of doing well against foreign opponents as they did previously with wins against Chinese Olympics XI and FC Göteborg of Sweden in the 50s. However, all those were friendly matches and this was an opportunity for the team to make history and become the first Indian team to defeat a foreign opponent in the final of a competitive fixture and win a trophy.

Captains Santo Mitra and Hassan Habibi

Captains Santo Mitra and Hassan Habibi

On 25th September 1970, the teams met each other in the Final of the tournament in front of a 80,000+ packed Eden Gardens. The crowd had came in with hopes to see a miracle from the in-form Red and Gold brigade against the mighty PAS Club, who were the favourites.

Peter Thangaraj catching a header from Asghar Sharafi


East Bengal: Peter Thangaraj; Sudhir Karmakar, Syed Nayeemuddin, Prasanta Sinha, Santo Mitra; Samaresh Chowdhury (Kalon Guha), Kajal Mukherjee; Swapan Sengupta, Ashok Chatterjee, Mohammed Habib (Parimal Dey), Shyam Thapa.

PAS Club: Kivan Nicknafs; Mahsin Hosangi, Hassan Habibi, Majid Halvaei, Hossain Kazrani; Humayun Sharekhi, Shehodei; Mehdi Monajati (Ahmed Jadeh), Jahangir Nassiri (Malekiyan), Mirza Hossain, Asghar Sharafi.

Referee: Ramakanta Ganguly

The game began at a frantic pace as the East Bengal FC defence line consisting of Sudhir Karmakar, Syed Nayeemuddin and captain Santo Mitra stood their ground with goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj leading them from under the crossbar. At the flag end of the first half, PAS Club’s star striker Asghar Sharafi charged at Peter Thangaraj while he was gripping the ball. The ball slipped out of Thangaraj’s hands and Asghar scored however the referee rightly disallowed the goal for the unfair and foul charge.

Asghar Sharafi of PAS Club

Asghar Sharafi of PAS Club

East Bengal’s attack lead by Mohammed Habib and Swapan Sengupta controlled the pace and the Red and Gold brigade could have taken the lead but Ashok Chatterjee missed a golden chance in the first half of the game.

Both the teams fought neck to neck to open the deadlock even in the second half. The crowd was getting ready to settle for a draw and to see a replay final on the next day when just 3 minutes before the end of regulation time, Mohammed Habib was forced to be replaced due to an injury and in came Parimal Dey, who was lovingly known as “jongla da” among the fans.

Parimal Dey – known for his strong right foot and opportunistic poaching abilities, who had scored numerous goal for the Red and Gold brigade in the 60s, would latch on to a square pass from Swapan Sengupta just seconds before the end of regulation time and calmly place the ball beyond the reach of the PAS Club’s goalkeeper to eternally etch his name in the history books as East Bengal FC achieved the impossible that no other club had achieved till date in Indian football.

Parimal Dey

East Bengal Club had defeated the Asian giants PAS Club of Iran by a solitary goal and the 80,000+ crowd present at the Eden Gardens had erupted to an unbelievable frenzy. As described by people who were present at the ground that day, the crowd became ecstatic and celebrated the win by lighting paper torches or “mashals” from the stands, the symbol of the club’s emblem, which has now become synonymous with the Red and Gold fans’ celebration after wins.

The IFA Shield triumph in 1970 became an iconic moment in the history of Indian football as East Bengal FC became the first ever team to defeat a foreign opponent to lift a major trophy since the independence in 1947.

The immortal team of 1970 also went on to win the Durand Cup as well later and completed the triplet in the Golden Jubilee year for East Bengal Club.

In 2008, the immortal team was honoured and felicitated by the East Bengal club and their historic win against the PAS Club of Iran was once again celebrated. The triumph shall forever be etched as one of the iconic moments in the history of East Bengal Football Club.

East Bengal squad in 1970:

Goalkeepers- Peter Thangaraj and Kanai Sarkar

Backs- Sudhir Karmakar, Syed Nayeemuddin, Santo Mitra (c), R.Dutta, A.Bose, Sunil Bhattacharya

Halfbacks K.Guha, Prashanta Sinha, Kajal Mukherjee and Samaresh Chaudhury

Forwards- Ashoke Chatterjee, Swapan Sen Gupta, Parimal Dey, Mohammed Habib, Shyam Thapa, K.B.Sharma, Shanker Banerjee and Sitesh Das

Coach- Mohammed Hussain


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