Intelligence and education of Hyderabad’s Hakim helped raise level of Indian football

The name of Syed Shahid Hakim is familiar to the entire football fraternity of India. He was one of the most accomplished personalities who graced Hyderabad and Indian football as a player, referee and coach. Indeed it would not be wrong to say that there were few people in India who could match his knowledge and acumen about the different aspects of football. Besides being a well known personality in football, he also served as an officer in the Indian Air Force.

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Being one of the sons of the great coach S.A. Rahim, he grew up in a football related environment. Hakim belonged to that period when Hyderabad was at the zenith of Indian football. He played with the illustrious players of India. Among his teammates 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.

As a player, Hakim’s talent bloomed at an early age. He was at his peak in the late 1950s. He was a member of the Hyderabad state team which won the Santosh Trophy in 1957. Due to his prodigious talent and his rising status in Indian football, he was selected to represent India in the Pre-Olympic tournaments in Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia.

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It was not a surprise when he was also selected in the Indian team for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. That was the last time that India qualified for the Olympic Games. Although India narrowly failed to enter the knockout stage of the tournament, the Games were a great learning opportunity for Hakim.

The close interaction that Hakim had with the world’s best players and coaches gave his keen intelligence some valuable insights into the tactics and training of European and South American players. These he later put into use when guiding his own trainees. This is where his education and learning proved to be a big asset. Having studied at All Saints HS, Nizam College and then Osmania University, his level of education was above many other footballers. This enabled him to interact easily with foreigners and learn from everything that he observed.

Later, after he joined the Indian Air Force, he played for the defence services team and went on to be appointed captain of the All India Services team.

After retiring from the game as a player, he continued to serve Indian football in various capacities. He became a well known referee who was among the best in India. Starting from 1970 he continued to serve as a referee for many years. In 1974 he was selected to be a member of the FIFA Referees panel which was a great honour for an Indian referee.

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.

But that was not the end of his distinguished career. Thereafter, Hakim became a reputed coach and coached the Indian team from 1980 to 1982 for the Merdeka Cup and Delhi Asian Games along with other coaches.

When he was 80, he fell prey to the rampaging COVID pandemic but recovered. However, despite winning the battle against the dreaded virus, his life did not last long thereafter. He suffered two strokes in rapid succession and passed away in Gulbarga where he had been admitted to a hospital in August 2021. His death left a void in Indian football which will perhaps never be fulfilled.

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