Memories of Munna
Monem Munna, one of the finest footballers Bangladesh has ever produced, who died in 2005 at the age of 39, is still alive in the memories of the West Bengal people as the former Bangladesh captain who enthralled Indian spectators wearing the shirt of the East Bengal Football Club 20 years ago.
Central defender Munna became a household name in Kolkata after playing only two years (1991-1992) for the East Bengal Football Club and helped the supporter-based club win the league titles o both occasions. During that time, Abahani teammates Sheikh Mohammad Aslam and Rizvi Karim Rummy also accompanied Munna in East Bengal Football Club colours.
“A footballer like Munna will not be produced again in this sub-continent,” said East Bengal Football Club official Debabroto Sarker, who is better known as Nitu Sarker, at the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) when a couple of journalists visited the AIFF office yesterday.
“You people don't know how crazy the West Bengal people were for Munna and they were eager to invite them into their homes,” an emotion-choked Nitu said. Nitu Sarker was surprised to see Munna's level of confidence when the East Bengal Football Club ended goalless in the first-half against Mohan Bagan.
“I asked him what happened today. He told me that the club would find the back of the opponents' net inside ten minutes of the second half and we left the field with a victory over Mohan Bagan,” said the organiser, adding, “I watched a lot of footballers but never saw a man like Munna who had such firm belief.”
Munna also wore the jersey of the East Bengal Football Club in 1998 but he could not shine as he did in 1991-1992.
Munna made his national debut in 1986 at the age of 18 in the Seoul Asian Games and under his captaincy Bangladesh achieved their first-ever international success in the four-nation Grand Royal Challenge Cup in Myanmar in 1995.