The best right winger India ever had: IM Vijayan pays tribute to soulmate Chapman

Etched in  memory
FC Kochin players Carlton Chapman, left, and I M Vijayan receive the Durand Cup in 1997.

The bitter rivalry between the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal is part of Indian football folklore. So, it is hard to imagine players of these two teams becoming hang-out buddies. But Chapman and I could foster a friendship where respect was the most obvious byword. I was at Mohun Bagan when he joined East Bengal. Often we used to travel together to Kolkata after visiting our families. Later, we went on to play together for JCT Phagwara and FC Kochin. We were also part of the national team. 

In fact, Chapman possessed individual skills and technical qualities required to be a professional footballer in Europe, especially in the English Premier League. His ability to whip dangerous crosses and defence-splitting passes into the box was a sight to behold. He was arguably the best right winger India has ever had. Since his retirement, we have struggled to find a player of his calibre.

(The writer is a former captain of the Indian football team)

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