Mohun Bagan Ratna 2019
PRASUN BANERJEE was given the nickname ‘Neto’ by his elder brother, famous footballer and successful coach P.K.Banerjee, after the captain of the USSR team that had come to play in India in 1955. Prasun started his football career not as a midfielder, but as a forward in the Mansion ground of the Railway Quarters, Dhanbad. Later Sujon Chakraborty brought him to George Telegraph, his first club in Kolkata Maidan.
After playing for a couple of years, Banerjee in search of better prospects joined Khidirpore. Bhootnath Biswas, the all-in-all owner of Khidirpur team, left no stone unturned to bring in the best talents or his team. After seeing him play in a few matches, the then coach Achyut Banerjee, whom Prasun considered to be his mentor, brought about a change that completely turned his football career around by turning him into a midfielder. In that year, Prasun played alongside another famous midfielder Goutam Sarkar.
In 1973, while still playing for Khidirpore, he netted a goal against East Bengal. The news of his performance spread far and wide. In the same year, he got a chance to play for India in Asian Youth Football Championship. With him playing a vital role, India finished as joint winner in 1974 Asian Youth Championship, India’s best finish in that tournament till date. In 1975 in the same tournament, Banerjee was an important member of the Indian team that became runners up in a 2-2 draw match against Iran in Thailand. He was selected in the Indian team for the Merdeka tournament in 1974.
In 1974, Prasun Banerjee joined Mohun Bagan and played alongside Ratan Dutta, Subrata Bhattacharya etc. Though he could not play too well initially, very soon he became the king of the midfield. Banerjee became an indispensable member of the Mohun Bagan squad. In 1975, Bagan brought home the Bordului trophy by defeating Punjab XI. The winning goal was scored by Prasun Banerjee.
The golden era of Mohun Bagan started in 1976, when his elder brother PK Banerjee joined as coach. Mohun Bagan won League, Shield, Durand, Rovers multiple times. In 1977, the team won all the three major trophies. In 1978, Banerjee was made the club captain. Under his efficient captaincy, Mohun Bagan won the Sait Nagjee trophy at the very start of the season. By scoring a record 79 goals Mohun Bagan won CFL in 1978. Mariners also became Federation Cup champions for the first time at Coimbatore in same year. In IFA Shield final, Bagan drew 2-2 with Ararat Yerevan, the terrific team from Soviet Union and were declared joint winners. Along with club football, Banerjee got a permanent position in the national team and represented India in Asian Games in Bangkok in 1978.
In 1979, through Prasun’s excellent free-kick Mohun Bagan won Durand Cup final against Punjab Police. The Prasun-Goutam duo of Mohun Bagan midfield was by then considered to be best in India. After playing in Mohun Bagan from 1974 to 1980, Prasun Banerjee joined Mohammedan Sporting in 1981 and played a vital role in making the team League champions after 13 long years.
In the following year, he came back to Mohun Bagan. In his second stint with Bagan, the team brought home Durand, League, Shield and Federation Cup. During the same time, Prasun represented India in Merdeka Cup in 1981 and 1982, 1982 Nehru Gold Cup,. He scored two goals in the 1982 Delhi Asian Games. In 1984, he joined Mohammedan Sporting again and played a pivotal role in their Federation Cup win.
From 1974 to 1979 and in 1982, Prasun Banerjee was a member of Bengal Santosh Trophy team. In 1979, Bengal won Santosh Trophy under his able captaincy. In 1980, he was given the prestigious Arjuna award for his contribution to football. The credit of being the first footballer to become a Member of Parliament also goes to Prasun Banerjee.
Mohun Bagan is honoured to confer Prasun Banerjee with Mohun Bagan Ratna award for 2019.