While we wonder whether Sunil Chhetri and boys, who clinched the SAFF Championships by defeating Kuwait, will receive the love they truly deserve from fans, here’s a heartwarming tale about how love for an Indian footballer saved his mother from danger 75 years ago.

There’s a famous football nugget from Spain that goes as follows. During the Civil War, Ricardo Zamora, the Real Madrid star, was reportedly kidnapped by an extreme Left militant.

He approached Zamora with a knife with the intent to kill, but upon recognizing him as the Real Madrid star, he hugged Zamora and spared his life.

In Europe or South America, it’s not unusual to come across such fandom for a footballer. But Mr. Koushik Das’ article in Ananda Bazar Patrika reveals an equally fascinating incident involving an Indian footballer that truly stands out.

The year was 1948, just a year after India had gained its hard-fought independence. In the midst of a turbulent and divided nation, an elderly widow named Nabin Kishori Debi embarked on a journey to meet her son.

With a small suitcase clutched tightly in her weathered hands, Nabin Kishori boarded a train from Faridpore, a town in East Pakistan, bound for the bustling city of Calcutta. Her son lived there.

The atmosphere around her was thick with tension and uncertainty; the wounds of partition still bled fresh with the aftermath of the division having left scars on the hearts of many.

As the train made its way towards its destination, a sudden disturbance disrupted the weary passengers. A group of soldiers stormed into the carriage, their stern expressions and authoritative presence filling the air with an aura of intimidation.

The old lady felt a knot tighten in her stomach as the soldiers approached her, singling her out from the crowd. They aggressively demanded that she open her suitcase, their rough hands rummaging through her meager belongings without a trace of empathy.

The helpless lady, with tears welling up in her eyes, pleaded with them to stop, explaining that she was just a humble woman traveling to meet her son. But the soldiers seemed unmoved by her pleas, their harassment escalating with each passing moment.

However, destiny had a different plan in store. As the soldiers rummaged through her belongings, their gaze fell upon a photograph tucked inside the folds of a saree – a simple faded image of a mother and son.

At that moment, something happened. The soldiers recognized the familiar face of the young man in the photograph, a face that had adorned newspaper headlines and ignited the spirits of a nation. It was Gostha Pal, the son of Nabin Kishori Debi.

Suddenly, their aggression transformed into deep respect and remorse. They humbly apologized to Nabin Kishori Debi and their stern demeanor softened in the presence of a mother’s love.

With humility in their voices, the soldiers offered their apologies to Nabin Kishori Debi. They bought her a window ticket, a small gesture to alleviate the discomfort they had caused.

As she gazed out of the window, the vast expanse of the countryside passing by, she couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride and gratitude for her son – Gostha Pal, fondly known as ‘the Great Wall of China.’

He was an icon, not just for his remarkable skills on the field, but also for the unity and hope he represented during those challenging times. He had become a symbol of resilience & a beacon of light in the darkest time – all through the beautiful game. Long live football.


Koushik Das, Gostha Pal, Ananda Bazar Patrika, https://www.anandabazar.com/amp/patrika/special-write-up-on-legendary-indian-footballer-gostha-pal/cid/1271841