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Ex-Captain of Mohun Bagan, Compton Dutta played for the club from 1975 to 1985.  Under his Captaincy in 1980, Mohun Bagan won the Durand Cup and Federation Cup. He won Santosh Trophy for Bengal in 1982 as a captain. We had a chat with him few days back.

Say something about your childhood. When did you start playing football?

Compton Dutta : I am lucky that I belong to a football family and got a lot of guidance from my brothers. Two of my brothers, Sudeb Dutta and Milton Dutta were professional football players. My father was also a football lover and used to watch a lot of games.

My brother, Milton Dutta, sent me to Khokon da of Southern Sports Association at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. Many great footballers like Shanto Mitra, Niranjan Ganguly etc. used to practice there during off-season. I got inspired by those footballers and started practicing regularly. So, you could say, I started playing when I was 14 years of age.

In the year 1973, Khokon Basu Mullick sent me to 1st Division Club Kalighat. In the same year I played for the Calcutta University and also represented Junior Bengal. I stayed in Kalighat for another year and played for Bengal in Santosh Trophy.

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What are the main reasons that drove you to choose Mohun Bagan over any other clubs in 1975?

Compton Dutta I represented India in youth Asian Championship in 1975 in Kuwait. I got offers from both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal but decided to join Mohun Bagan because being able to play for the club uplift your status in the society. The stalwarts associated with Mohun Bagan management like Late Sri Dhiren Dey, Late Sri Sailen Manna,Late Sri Umapati Kumar and others were role models for any young footballer and that made my decision easy. They encouraged me to join Mohun Bagan, as young talents have always found their place here. I was lucky to play during their regime, and I automatically fell in love with the club. This love has always been above any monetary benefits.  

How was your experience about the 1977 Pele match, i.e., Mohun Bagan vs Cosmos Club ?

Compton Dutta : That season we had one of the best teams of the decade, including the likes of Habib, Akbar, Shyam Thapa, Shubhas Bhowmik and many more, yet we somehow lost the Federation Cup in Cochin and also we lost way against East Bengal in the Kolkata League derby. We were determined to prove our might under the guidance of Coach P.K. Banerjee. The arrival of Pele, Chinaglia, Alberto and other stalwarts of the footballing world to play an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan was an exciting news for Indian football. We drew that match Two-all and that acted as the catalyst for the rest of the season. We went on to win the Triple Crown that season.

Can you tell us about an interesting transfer story from the early 70s’ .

Compton Dutta : One incident involving the transfer of Shyam Thapa from East Bengal to Mohun Bagan is one that I still remember and laugh back at. After finishing off the Santosh Trophy match, Shyam had to escape the hotel through the bathroom window, to avoid being spotted by the East Bengal officials or caretakers. He ran away with the recruiter of Mohun Bagan club and was then received at the Kolkata Airport, where Sri Sailen Manna met him and he signed his contract in favour of Mohun Bagan, leaving all the rival admirers in dismay. Such situations were always of fun back in those days, and very encouraging to the players. Such love from the fans is irreplaceable.

How do you compare coaching styles of PK Banerjee and Amal Dutta?

Compton Dutta : Both have been two of the greatest coaches that Indian Football has ever seen. They had their own brilliant footballing brains which they portrayed through their players. However, to me, Pradip Sir was ahead of Amal Sir in a few aspects. Pradip Sir was a brilliant footballer to have donned the Nation’s shirts back in those days. He, apart from having the coaching knowledge, also had tremendous playing experience. This helps a lot for a coach to synchronise his thoughts with the players.

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You played for Mohun Bagan in the 1980 Derby match at Eden Gardens that marks the darkest day of Indian Football, 16th August. What was the situation like?

Compton Dutta : It was indeed a very sad incident. Several innocent football-loving souls lost their precious lives in the massacre. There was some serious ticket-management problems from the tournament organizers, which led to this sad incident. It also had a huge effect on the football season. It was indeed a dark day in the history of Indian and even world sports.

Could you please share some important derby victories in your career.

Compton Dutta : I have won numerous derby games in my career. However, one of the best would be the 1976 derby which we won by Akbar’s 17 second goal at the Eden Gardens. Mohun Bagan had a lean phase from 1970 to 1975. In 1976, Habib, Akbar, Subhash Bhowmick and Samaresh Chowdhury joined Mohun Bagan. East Bengal dominated the game but our defence line stood strong to deny them any goal scoring opportunities.

In 1979, in the final of the IFA Shield we defeated arch rivals East Bengal by a solitary goal scored by Goutam Sarkar. We dominated the game and could have won by bigger margin. This was another memorable derby win in my career.

In 1981, we defeated East Bengal 2-0 in the semi final of the Federation Cup, with Xavier Pius scoring both the goals. Another goal scored by Mihir Bose was cancelled by the referee. The 4 defenders of Mohun Bagan in that game were myself (right back), Subrata Bhattacharya (stopper), Samar Bhattacharya (stopper), and Shyamal Banerjee (left back). We lifted the Federation Cup by beating Mohammedan Sporting 2-0 in the final.

Any other memorable matches that you played for Mohun Bagan.

Compton Dutta : The IFA Shield final against Ararat, one of the best teams of Europe at that point in time ended in a 2-2 draw was a very special game.

The game against football legend Pele’s Cosmos club was a very special match where I came as a substitute. The match ended in a 2-2 draw but we got necessary impetus for the rest of the season from this match.

What was your experience in the Asian Games?

Compton Dutta : I was diagnosed with malaria, just before the competition. However, I was determined to play. I returned to Kolkata to enhance my treatment and then returned to the Asian Games village in New Delhi. Later I played almost every match in the games under the flu. The Saudi Arabia match was another wonderful match from that particular Asian Games that I played in the Indian colours, however, we lost the match unfortunately in the dying moments of the match, after I had to be substituted due to tremendous fever and fatigue. I am proud and happy that I could give my cent percent for my nation.

You have been one of the best side backs in India back in your times, so according to you, who was the best winger or striker, whom you have ever faced?

Compton Dutta : Inder Singh, he was tremendous in his Jalandar Leaders days, in Punjab. He had also been the captain of the Indian National team. He was lethal in the top of the box. His sudden turns and shots had been real threats to the opponent’s defence.

Share your experience of representing Bengal in Santosh Trophy.

Compton Dutta : I made my debut for the Senior Bengal team in 1974. After that, I represented Bengal from 1978 to 1980 and 1982 again. We won the Santosh Trophy in 1978, 1979 and 1982. Under my captaincy Bengal won the Santosh Trophy in 1982.

Who according to you has been the best foreign player to have played in Indian football?

Compton Dutta : Both Barreto and Majid Bishkar were truly inspiring in their times. Majid was a sharp and promising footballer. He had excellent touch, speed and vision. However, Barreto was a talisman to Mohun Bagan. He has played for a longer time and has saved his club from various difficult situations and won numerous prestigious awards and trophies. His footballing sense, dedication and ball control is a sight to the eyes. The goals they scored or the passes that they provided are the best that Indian football has seen, through foreign players.