Indian Football

India Football: Rewind to the time when IM Vijayan was dropped from the squad despite being at his peak

Arjun Singh Devgan
IM Vijayan is a legend in India
IM Vijayan is a legend in India / RAVEENDRAN/GettyImages

IM Vijayan is without doubt one of the greatest players in Indian football history, with the striker rising to become one of the few big football stars that came to the fore in the 1990s.

Despite his excellence on the pitch, there was a time in the early 1990s when the 52-year-old was dropped by former national team head coach, Rustam Akramov for no specific reason - a decision which baffled many considering that Vijayan was at his peak.

The striker was excluded from the squad for the Nehru Cup in Kolkata and SAARC Cup in Colombo, but the former head coach eventually had a change of heart after taking charge of a couple of practice games in Kolkata.

“I was included in a selection side to play the pre-Olympic team. Luckily for me, the match was played at the Mohun Bagan ground, which I knew like the back of my hand. For being dropped from the national team, I was upset and very angry. I wanted to show the coach what I was capable of. I think alone I scored four or five goals," Vijayan said on the exclusion.

“Next day, another match was schedule at the SAI ground. Akramov came to me before the match and warned I would be tightly marked. I scored three goals that evening. When the coach announced the team for the next tournament, I was back in the squad," he added.

The former Mohun Bagan striker spent his entire career in India, despite attracting interest from clubs in Malaysia and Thailand, with the 52-year-old eventually retiring from the sport in 2006, after scoring 32 goals for his country.