Former Indian footballer and Olympian Nikhil Nandy dies

The former half-back, who played a key role in India’s fourth-place finish at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, was treated for COVID-19 earlier this year.

By Naveen Peter ·

Former footballer Nikhil Nandy, who was a part of the national team that finished fourth at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, died at his house in Kolkata on Tuesday, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said. He was 88.

The Indian football player, who was an integral part of the national team in the 1950s, recovered from COVID-19 earlier this year but later developed some renal problems and was under treatment for more than a month. He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.

Nikhil Nandy was at his peak during the 1950s when he formed the core of the Indian defence that competed at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. The competition saw India beat hosts Australia 4-2 before losing out to Yugoslavia in the semi-finals. 

In the bronze medal match, the Indian football team suffered a 3-0 loss to Bulgaria to finish fourth. While Neville D'Souza led the team with his goal-scoring abilities, India were ably supported by the likes of Tulsidas Balaram, PK Banerjee, Nikhil Nandy and Abdul T Rehman.

“It is sad to hear that Mr Nikhil Nandy is no more,” AIFF president Praful Patel said in a statement. “His contribution to Indian football will never be forgotten. I share the grief.”

Nikhil Nandy also helped play an important role in helping the Indian football team reach the semi-finals of the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo. The same year, he led his Eastern Railways outfit to the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title. He was also a part of the Bengal team that won the Santosh Trophy in 1955.

Post his retirement, Nikhil Nandy continued to contribute as a coach and even took over the reins of the Indian football team jointly with J Kittu.

“Nikhil Nandy was a gifted player and will always be alive in his achievements. He has been the inspiration of so many footballers. We pray for his soul to rest in peace,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.

Nikhil Nandy came from a house of footballers. Two of his elder brothers Santosh Nandy and Anil Nandy too represented the national team at the 1948 Olympics in London.