“Auto Fister said that if Munna was born in Germany, football would have been a Beckenbauer,” said Kazi Shahed Ahmed, then world paper’s German editor and one of the top organizers of Abahani Limited. My journalism career also started in the daily Aajker Kagaz Patrika. The newspaper was known as a factory for making journalists. Editor Shahed Ahmed was very addicted to sports. Loved to talk about the game. Monem Munnar used to raise the issue of ‘Rakshan Raj’ from time to time.
Everyone agrees that Munna was born in the wrong country. Thinking from this side, Munna is also a name of regret. Whether he was able to do justice to his talent is another matter. However, he was able to recognize his name well outside the borders of the country. A news headline from the 1995 SAF Games is making headlines. Madras was the venue of the SAF Games that year. As far as I can remember, on the day of the start of the Games, there was a news headline on the playing page of the influential daily Anandabazar in Kolkata, “Shahbaz, Usha and Munnar games start today”! In the 1990s, Shahbaz Ahmed of Pakistan was called ‘Hockey Maradona’ by many. There is nothing new to say about PT Usha. This Indian athlete was the best in Asia in his time. At the beginning of the Games, the name of Munnar, the son of Narayanganj, was also mentioned with equal status by two such famous athletes. It may seem strange to think, especially looking at the current football but it is true. Not without raising a topic before discussing Munna. He is one of the best defenders in the history of Bangladesh football. Without him, the country’s football history will not be complete in any way. In 1992, Abnahani had to pay Rs 20 lakh to Munna for Vera. Which was a special event in subcontinental football at that time. Munnar’s receipt of Rs 20 lakh caused a great stir in South Asian football.
These are undoubtedly great achievements as a footballer of Bangladesh. Of course, it is not possible to limit Munna to just that. The popularity of a player, especially a footballer, demands to be discussed separately. There could also be a subtle debate about Munna in the place of popularity. Monem Munna is more popular in Bengal? Here or there?
Asif Nazrul, a professor, columnist and writer in the law department of Dhaka University, has written about Munnar separately through a special incident in a memoir called ‘PhD Story’. The author lived in a London house while doing his PhD. The author mentions an incident of that time in this way-
Before coming to London, my conversation was only about the politics of the country, Nirmul Committee and Bichitra. Sometimes bymela or Dhaka University. In London House, I passed by everyone saying hello-hi. There are three more PhD candidates near London House – Rana Bhai (Dr. Kazi Borhanuddin Ahmed), Mukul Bhai (Dr. Rezaul Karim) and Naeem Bhai (Dr. Naeem Ahmed). Call them and bring them. I speak Bengali with happiness in my mind.
An unimaginable event happened in this corridor. A melodious voice rang out from behind me and Rana Bhai, are you Bengali? Such a strange question inside the London House! Almost startled and turned back. Nervous, I rarely say, yes, we are. The girl smiled a long wave of laughter. Then why do you speak English? ‘Why Balchen’, he said, extending his hand, ‘I am Mimi. Angana Sengupta. In 5 minutes I became the birth-birth grandfather of Mimi from Kolkata. At the end of 15 minutes, Mimi starts eating her grandfather’s khichuri dimvhaja and within an hour, Mimi finished describing her four boyfriends.
Mm is normal to see. Four Englishmen are burning to death for him. I was a little surprised. Since then, Mimi’s almost daily dialogue, how is Asif Bhai’s mind. Do you enjoy cooking? I have to say, come on. Mimi comes and goes. I have to cook again, I am fascinated by this show. I still forgive Mimi for a reason. The first time I went to his room that day. I pushed open the door and saw a young man with a pale face standing with a television in his lap. Mimi is sitting on the bed behind him drinking tea.
This boy seems to be one of Mimi’s four young men. Mimi smiles at me. I stared at the walls of Mimi’s room in astonishment before returning her smile. Posters across a large part of that wall. There is our handsome footballer Monem Munna. Abahani’s Munna has recently played in Kolkata’s East Bengal. The whole of Calcutta was shaken. But that’s why Munnar’s picture is in London House! Munna across Mimi’s walls. None of the four white young men. I see pictures of Munnar’s reckless youth again and again. I say to myself, Congress Munna, well done.
Munnar started his football career in Narayanganj, the city of his childhood. The Dhaka episode started in 1971. He played for Pioneer League team Dhaka Post Office. The next year he joined the second division team Shantinagar Club. In 1973, the party of the first division was called to the Muktijoddha Sangsad. He was called up to the national team in 1986. He was an integral part of the national team for 11 consecutive years from 1986 to 1996. His first mission in a red-green jersey was the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in Pakistan. In that debut match against strong Iran, Munna was happy with the goal.
Quaid-e-Azam was transferred before the trophy. Munna joined Brothers Union Club. Monem Munnar Abahani’s career started in 1986. After that, this king back never changed the club except Kolkata East Bengal. He first played for East Bengal in 1991. Played three seasons in a row. The Kolkata team has won the league title twice. He played for Dhaka Abahani till 1996. 199 became the leader of the national team
0 at the Seoul Asian Games. However, the regret of not being able to win the SAF Games gold medal for the country could not be eradicated. However, under his leadership, Bangladesh got the taste of winning a trophy for the first time outside the country. Munna and his teammates won the title at the 1995 Four Nations Football Tournament in Myanmar (then Burma).
Bangladesh’s start to the tournament was very bad. The team lost to host Myanmar 0-4. However, Munnara turned around from the second match. The hard-fought victory against Singapore came 1-0. Bangladesh lost to Sri Lanka by the same margin in the next match. In the final again, the opponent is the host Myanmar. The hosts are on the field as favorites in the title fight. Munnar’s heroism in that match is still fresh in the memory of many. Bangladesh took the lead with the goal of Mamun Joardar. The hosts took the storm of attack and returned to equality in the match. However, Bangladesh took the lead again with Naqib’s goal. Myanmar became desperate to return to the match. Throughout the match, Munna built a strong wall of resistance in front of the hosts shoulder to shoulder with his teammates.
In the end, Bangladesh took the lead 2-1 and won the first title in foreign football. At that time, the coach of Bangladesh was Auto Fister who won the title against Ghana in the Youth World Cup. After winning the title, the German coach said that he only wants to celebrate after becoming the clear champion. Shortly afterwards, the Madras Saf Games were held. Munna had to be satisfied with the runners-up trophy after losing 0-1 to host India in the final.
Munna played three seasons in East Bengal. Apart from winning the league title twice, he also won the IFA Shield. In domestic football, Munna has played in all positions like left back, right back, stopper. However, he played in East Bengal as a defensive midfielder. Strong shots on both feet, easy to anticipate the movements of the opposing strikers, with perfect tough tackling, tirelessly plowing the entire field, matching himself as a bridge of defense and attack, occasionally scoring goals – all his qualities in the East Bengal jersey seemed to have developed equally.
“Munna again, ball to Munnar again”, those who listened to the East Bengal game on the radio at that time, were not thrilled by the commentators’ excitement. Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin’s triumph in Calcutta at that time. Azhar scored thousands of runs when he went down to bat at Eden Gardens, a common saying. Azhar scored five centuries in 6 Tests at this ground. 60 runs at an average of 108.50. Munna shared the popularity of ‘King of Calcutta’ Azhar. The news of selling the same poster of him and Azhar in Anandnagar also came in the media.
Former Indian national team defender Krishnendu Roy played with Munnar in East Bengal. This defender used to play in the right back position to score from the penalty spot. After hearing about writing about Munna, the footballer sent this voice message in two phases. “I had a spiritual relationship with Munnar,” he said. Although I have been to Bangladesh many times before Munna came to play in East Bengal. It can be said that my career started from Bangladesh. I took part in Asia Youth Football in Dhaka in 1986. After that I went to play in Bangladesh six / seven more times. However, after Aslam (Sheikh Mohammad), Rumi (Rizvi Karim) and Munna came to East Bengal, the relationship with Bangladesh deepened. I have talked with many footballers of Bangladesh. However, a different relationship was formed with Munna Bhai and Aslam Bhai. Speaking of Munnar. Every time I went to Bangladesh, he drove me around. Gave many gifts. Once gave a carpet. I have taken care of that. ”
Krishnendu said everything about footballer Munna in one word, “Munna is a versatile football talent. No football fan of two Bengals will ever forget him. ”
There are various myths about Munnar’s popularity in Calcutta. Renowned defender Krishnendu said, “Apart from England and Nigeria, footballers from many African countries have played in East Bengal. Footballers from Iran and Iraq have come here. However, Majid Baskar of Iran is ahead of everyone in popularity. Then there are Chima (Chima Okari) and Munna in Nigeria. Like Majid-Chima, Bengal football fans also remember Munna. ”
They have got more respect in Upper Bengal than in Upper Bengal and they are still getting this opinion of former striker Sheikh Mohammad Aslam. Apart from Abahani and the national team, Aslam also played with Munnar in East Bengal. Regarding Munna’s game in Kolkata, the former striker said, “Munna explained that good football is practiced in Dhaka. There is no comparison to the game Munna played as a defensive midfielder. ” Aslam said about the understanding among themselves, “Munna would attack whenever he got a chance. He could swing the ball with both feet. This kind of swing would have confused the opposing defenders. That’s why I scored a goal. ”
Munna has been described as a “perfect footballer” by Kaiser Hamid, a one-time national team and Mohammedan defender. “I was in charge of Mohammedan’s defense. Munnar was responsible for keeping Abahani’s defense in check. Together we played in the national team. Munna could understand the movements of the opposing strikers very well. His sixth sense was very strong. But sometimes I lose my temper. But I always played with a cool head. I think Munna could have been the best defender in Asia if the temperament had been a little better. ”
“If Munna had been born in Europe, he would have played European-style football,” said Tanvir Mazhar Tanna, manager of the independent Bengali football team and associated with Abahani Club since its inception.
In Krishnendu’s eyes, Munna is also a stylish footballer – “Munna was stylish on the field. Responsive football played. No one will forget him who has seen his game. The East Bengal Club remembers him. There is a picture of him hanging in the club. ”
Sports journalist Krishanu Majumder does not fully agree with Krishnendu on the issue of ‘remembering Munna’. The former Anandabazar reporter is now working in Sangbad Pratidin newspaper. Krishanur is quite interested in the sports arena of Bangladesh. He has also worked with Munna. Regarding how much East Bengal remembers Munna, Krishanu said, “Fans remember Munna with love. However, the question remains as to how much the East Bengal club authorities remember Munna. There are pictures of Munna with the alumni in the club, that’s all. I think Munnar deserves more respect from East Bengal. As we can say as an example of Majid Baskar. Majid Baskar was brought on the occasion of the centenary of East Bengal Club. It was midnight when he set foot at the airport in Kolkata. Even after so many nights, the fans gathered at the airport to see Majid. Majid, Majid was shouting at the airport area. Majid left Calcutta more than three decades ago. Even then, Majid is still in the hearts of the fans. Even after so many days, the fans remember him, Majid was very surprised. Majid’s nephew came with him. The nephew was overwhelmed by the love of the people around his uncle. East Bengal could have done something like Munnar! What happened to Munna? He could have brought his wife and children. Munnar’s children could see how the fans remembered. ”
Even if everyone forgets, Munnar’s family will never forget the number ’12’. Munna was married to Yasmin Survi on 12 February 1993. The 12-year-old family of the two thorns thorns. Munna passed away on February 12, 2005 in just 36 years. At that time the eldest daughter Yusra Monem Dania was 6 years old. After marriage, Survi saw the popularity of her favorite partner. However, Survi Monem thinks that Munnar was more popular in Kolkata than in Dhaka. He said, “Munna was also very popular in Bangladesh. Once I went to a book fair with Munnar. Fans surrounded him from all sides. I was able to get out with the help of security personnel. But Munnar’s craze in Calcutta was even greater. A huge crowd would gather as soon as he left. The show room, the opening of the shopping mall, the invitation followed the invitation. ” The words of Angana Mimi of London House also came up in words. Survi Monem said, “Mimi was a very good friend of Munnar. Our family friends can tell. My sons and daughters have a very good relationship with Mimi. ”
The days are gone like that dream of the family. No one felt obliged to remember Munna. Occasionally there is a little reminiscence at the Abahani Club festival. Two / one packets of sweets are sent. Nothing was said to remind Munna. Munnar did not have a little space in any archive, stadium or sports establishment! It’s a pity. There is a small ‘Munna Smriti Sangsad’ locally in Narayanganj. That’s all. Survi Monem has also done a lot to keep Munnar’s name alive. But the work did not do much. In the words of Survi Monem, “The saddest thing is that our children have no memory of their father’s game. I tried a lot to get a video of his game. But no archive was found. There is no evidence that Munna used to play! ”
Survi took the helm of the family with two children in a strong hand. Daughter Dania has a Masters in Applied Mathematics. Norway is now in higher education. His son Ajman Salid is studying mass communication and journalism. Survi, who fought alone, has been able to educate her children at the helm of the family. But he could not succeed in trying to keep Munnar’s name alive. There is no end to his regrets, “I don’t know anything about the world of sports. There is no one to guide me. If Munnar’s name is to be preserved, the main role must be played by Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) and Abahani Club. Football must be kept alive. Munnadera must be kept alive. I think it is our duty to remember the athletes who have brought fame and honor to the country. ”
Those who have the responsibility to perform their duties, are they listening to Survi’s request? Munna or football fans want?