If we are asked to make a list of all-time great Indian goalkeepers, the very first name that comes to our mind is that of Peter Thangaraj. The player who was nominated as Asia’s best goalkeeper in 1958 was born on 25th December 1936 at Hyderabad. It was as if the whole world was celebrating his birthday on the day of Christmas. Thangaraj defied all the odds against him and became one of the greatest football players in the world of his time. So, let us pay tribute to India’s one of the greatest goalkeepers and know more in detail about him.
Early Life and Club Career of Peter Thangaraj
Peter Thangaraj began his journey by playing with local football clubs of Secunderabad like Morning stars club and Friends Union club and then went on to join the Indian Army. In 1953 he was stationed at Madras and at Madras regiment he gained his name and fame by playing as a center forward and becoming a top goal scorer among the team members.
But, fate had another thing in mind and the Andhra Pradesh footballer became a great goalkeeper. Madras regiment won the Durand Cup in 1955 and 1958. He was a part of the winning squad at that time. In 1960 he led his regiment to victory for the first time in Santosh trophy.
After winning the Santosh trophy, Peter Thangaraj left the services and made his much-awaited move to Kolkata to join the Mohammedan Sporting Club in 1961. The team had faced a major defeat by 5-0 at the hands of East Bengal and was on its lowest in performance and confidence. The joining of Peter Thangarajan worked like a magic for the team as just two days after his joining he made some spectacular saves and the team was able to pull the match against Mohun Bagan in a goalless draw.
His term with Mohammedan Sporting Club came to an end in 1963 as Mohun Bagan wasted no time in roping in this very good goalkeeper in their team. Because of him, Mohun Bagan won the Kolkata league and Durand Cup for two consecutive years. But, still, he was the second choice in the club after Barman, which led him to join the East Bengal club in the year 1965. His tenure with East Bengal club ended in 1971 during which he won 10 trophies for the team including Durand Cup, Rovers Cup, Kolkata League, and the IFA Shield. In 1963 he was also a part of the Bengal team that won the Santosh trophy and led the Railway team for their 1965 win in Santosh trophy.
In 1971 after leaving the East Bengal club, he again joined the Mohammedan Sporting Club for another season (1971-1972). He retired from the game of football in the year 1971.
The 1950s is considered the Golden Era in the history of the Indian National Football team, as the team participated in the Olympics. But, not much is ever mentioned about the 1955 Quadrangular tournament in Dacca. This tournament gave India its two best football players P. K. Bannerjee and Peter Thangaraj. In the 1955 Quadrangular tournament, Peter Thangaraj donned the National team uniform in the match against Myanmar.
Thangaraj played with the Indian National Team in the Olympic games of 1956 and 1960 and also represented the team in 1958 Tokyo, 1962 Jakarta, and 1966 Bangkok Asian games. He was part of the team that brought the 1962 gold medal home. He represented India at the Merdeka Cup tournament played at Kualalumpur from 1958 to 1966 and also represented the national team in 1964 and 1966 Asian Cup tournament.
Apart from the best goalkeeper award in 1958 he also received the Arjuna award in 1967 and the Asian All-star team named him as the Best goalkeeper in the same year. He retired from international football in the year 1971.
He took coaching after retirement and coached the Aligarh Muslim University team for six months in 1973, then coached Vasco Club, Goa till 1975 and from 1976 to 1995 he was the football coach of the Bokaro Steel Plant.
So, this is all we want to tell you about Peter Thangaraj. If you know of something please share your knowledge in the comment section below.