Sourav Ganguly’s Deep-Rooted Love for Football

Sourav Ganguly and his love for Football
Sourav Ganguly and his love for Football (PC: Sangbad Pratidin and Mohammedan SC/FB)

Players like Sir Vivian Richards (West Indies), Sir Ian Botham (England), and Ellyse Perry (Australia) have excelled in both cricket and football. Sir Viv (Antigua and Barbuda) and Perry represented their countries in football, while Sir Ian played professional football for Scunthorpe United in England. In Indian cricket, one of the finest leaders of all time, Sourav Ganguly, also has a deep connection with Indian football.

Sourav Ganguly’s record-breaking performances, leadership qualities, and legacy as a cricketer are well-known. However, there is an aspect of his life that many fans around the world are unaware of — his profound love and passion for football. As a Bengali, he closely follows all tournaments, especially those involving the three Kolkata giants: East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, and Mohammedan Sporting Club. In fact, he has a history of contributing to two of these clubs.

Today, July 8, the former Team India skipper celebrates his 52nd birthday. In celebration, let’s take a look at his contributions to Indian football so far.

Football was always Sourav’s first love, but academic pressure made it difficult for him to pursue it. His elder brother, Snehasish Ganguly, the current president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), was an established cricketer for the state at that time and supported Sourav immensely in starting his cricketing career. As a result, Sourav’s focus shifted from football to cricket, but his passion for the sport never waned. In a 2020 interview on the Indian Super League’s Instagram page, he revealed his fondness for football as a child, saying, “I played a lot of football as a striker” and that he hardly touched a cricket bat until he reached the 10th standard.

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Sourav Ganguly in action for Mohammedan SC vs East Bengal
Sourav Ganguly in action for Mohammedan SC vs East Bengal (PC: Mohammed SC/FB)

Wearing the Famous Mohammedan SC Jersey

In November 2010, Mohammedan SC enlisted former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly as the brand ambassador for the Mohammedan Sporting Platinum Jubilee Cup, celebrating the 75th anniversary of their victory in the 1934 Calcutta Football League (CFL). The club president, Late Sultan Ahmed, confirmed that Ganguly would don the famous black and white jersey with the number 99. The tournament featured Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and the world’s first-ever football club, Sheffield FC from the UK. In a knockout tournament, Bagan defeated Sheffield (1-0), and the Red and Yellow Brigade knocked out the Black Panthers (1-0).

In the match against East Bengal, Sourav played for 57 minutes before being substituted and led the side. Within the first seven minutes, Ganguly found a loose ball, sprinted, and passed to Christopher near the penalty box, but the chance was not converted into a goal. In the 24th minute, he attempted a side volley from a corner, but the East Bengal goalkeeper made a comfortable save. Despite retiring from international cricket in 2008, his fitness level was impressive and as he went back to the dugout, all the fans gave him a standing ovation.

Sourav Ganguly getting felicited by Mohun Bagan Officials and with the ISL Trophy with ATK manager, Habas
Sourav Ganguly was felicitated by Mohun Bagan Officials and with the ISL Trophy with then ATK manager, Habas (PC: Sangbad Pratidin)

ATK Chapter and the Love for Mohun Bagan

A new era in Indian football began in 2013 with the inception of the Indian Super League (ISL). ATK emerged as a team from Kolkata with Sourav Ganguly as a co-owner. Until 2021, he was with the club. However, when ATK merged with Mohun Bagan (currently known as Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Ganguly decided to resign as the director of ATK Mohun Bagan, the football team owned by RPSG Ventures Ltd. At that time, he was the BCCI President, and holding positions at both BCCI and Mohun Bagan would have resulted in a conflict of interest.

During his tenure, his football team won three ISL titles dominantly. Having played for Mohun Bagan as a cricketer for over nine years, it was a fantastic moment for him to be associated with the club once again to work on his first love, football. Unfortunately, he had to leave it. However, a few weeks back, some sources claimed that Ganguly has joined Mohun Bagan as the Director of the club and will look to bring his leadership prowess to the football field. But, no such official confirmation has been found so far from the club itself! Since childhood, Dada Sourav Ganguly has always shown love for Mohun Bagan but never managed to don the famous green and maroon jersey. That might be one regret for him, although he did experience playing against Bagan’s arch-rivals, East Bengal, for the Black Panthers.

As a famous cricketer and sports leader, Sourav Ganguly’s passion and enthusiasm for football have always been fascinating. Recently, at an event in Kolkata, Ganguly disclosed that he has been closely following the ongoing Euro 2024. He mentioned that he is particularly interested in teams like England, France, Germany, and Portugal (only for Cristiano Ronaldo). While both Portugal and Germany have been knocked out, only time will tell whether France and England will qualify for the final by winning their respective semi-finals. But, despite being such a successful cricketer for India, he still carries a lot of love for Football; that needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. Many many happy returns of the day, Dada! 

Also Read: Sourav Ganguly remains the voice of Kolkata globally