Famous football personality Olympian Hakeem is battling for life

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

Hyderabad: One of the famous football personalities of Hyderabad, Syed Shahid Hakeem, is fighting a courageous battle for his life in hospital. The 83 year old Hakeem, who was a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force, is one of the sons of the legendary football coach S.A. Rahim.

As the saying goes: “Like father, like son”. Hakeem also has many achievements to his name in football. In his young days he was a player of outstanding merit. He represented India at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. The coach of that team was his own father Rahim saab. The Indian team on that occasion had no less than seven players from Hyderabad.

So Hakeem has come from the golden era of Hyderabad football. Among his teammates and contemporaries were the famous goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj, D. Kannan, S.A. Latif, Yousuf Khan, S. Narayanan, H.H. Hamed and others. All these players were from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

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After retiring from the game as a player, he continued to exert his influence on Indian football in various other capacities. His playing career lasted about 20 years and thereafter he became a well known referee who was considered the best in India. Starting from 1970 he continued to serve as a referee for almost 20 years. In 1974 he was selected to be a member of the FIFA Referees panel.

Thereafter he officiated in 33 international matches and it is a record which is still not broken. No other Indian referee has officiated in 33 international matches. One of the important tournaments in which he was a referee was at the 1988 Asian Cup in Qatar.

But even that was not the end of his illustrious career in football. Hakeem became a very reputed and well qualified coach and coached the Indian team in 1980 along with the famous Nikhil Nandy of Bengal. From 1980 to 1982, he coached the Indian team along with P.K. Banerjee and Arun Ghosh for the Merdeka Cup and Delhi Asian Games.

Now this accomplished son of Hyderabad is in a hospital in Gulbarga where he was admitted after a heart attack. He had recently come to Hyderabad to attend a function on the occasion of Independence Day. Along with a few other players he was honoured by a social service organisation. Thereafter, he returned to Gulbarga but he suffered a heart attack soon after reaching his home. Perhaps the stress of the journey may have caused the setback to his health.

His family members including his brother and his family have reached to be beside him in his hour of need and provide him with moral support. He is on a ventilator but according to information received this morning, he had briefly opened his eyes and told his family members : “Please pray for me.” Then he was unable to speak anything further.

But it is not only his family who are praying for him. The entire football fraternity of Hyderabad and India are praying and hoping that the man who has served his country on the football fields and also in the armed forces, will fight his way back to a full recovery and fitness.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.

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