One of the stars of the 1960s, Abdul Ghafoor, shakes hands with the chief guest before a match. —File
One of the stars of the 1960s, Abdul Ghafoor, shakes hands with the chief guest before a match. —File

KARACHI: Pakistan football legend and former captain Abdul Ghafoor (Majna) who was also known as ‘Pakistan’s Pele’ breathed his last here on Friday after protracted illness. He was 71.

While the condolence messages started to pour in almost as soon as the news of Ghafoor’s demise spread, it was noted with regret that Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Faisal Saleh Hayat had failed to come forward for the help of the ailing player during his hour of need.

Popularly known as ‘Majna’ which means ‘I will hit you’ in local lingo, Ghafoor was nicknamed the ‘Pakistani Pele’ during his playing days for his remarkable resemblance to the Brazilian football legend.

When the real Pele in Brazil heard about his look-alike in Pakistan who also played football, he expressed his desire to meet Ghafoor but the two never met.

Ghafoor, although he was an all-rounder, mostly played in the midfield. He was captain of the Pakistan football team for four consecutive years in the 1960s when the country had a football identity and the country’s players were in demand in the foreign clubs.

Ghafoor, a member of the famous Dhaka Mohammedan Club in the former East Pakistan, too, had many offers to play for clubs in many countries including India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China, but he turned them down and preferred to play in his country and for his country.

Under Abdul Ghafoor’s captaincy, the Pakistan team beat the national teams of UAE and China. On the national level, he was a member of the Karachi Port Trust department team. After the fall of Dhaka, several players from Lyari district in Karachi were taken on by Dhaka Mohammedan on Ghafoor’s recommendation.

Six years ago the football authorities in Bangladesh contacted him again to suggest some players from Pakistan to play in their league. Unfortunately, their letter never reached Abdul Ghafoor as it was sent to the PFF because the Bangladeshis believed that a player of such great caliber as Ghafoor would be running the affairs of football in Pakistan. The PFF, instead of forwarding the letter to Ghafoor, sent its own team of boys to Bangladesh.

Five years ago, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and had been paralysed ever since. When his treatment costs became unbearable for his family, his son Abdul Ghani quietly spread the word that they would appreciate some financial help.

“I cannot tell my father about this as he is a very proud man who will die from embarrassment on learning that we are willing to accept charity on his behalf. But he is bedridden and his pension cannot cover his medical expenses when just one pill costs Rs 120,” his son had said soon after Sindh Sports Minister Dr Mohammad Ali announced help for him on the Sindh Assembly floor in January this year.

President PFF, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat in his condolence message said: “I was deeply saddened by the death of Pakistani Pele. This must be very difficult for all football lovers and players. Abdul Ghafoor was a kind person who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

“I will remember his contribution for the development of football in Pakistan. The loss to football is irreparable, and it will be very difficult to fill the vacuum created by the passing away of such a great soccer star of Pakistan at this moment. He will remain in my thoughts and my prayers.”

Updated Sep 07, 2012 02:28pm

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Comments (16) (Closed)


Sayyar Khan
Sep 07, 2012 05:48pm
I pray for you. I wish I had you autograph.
Jamshed Khan
Sep 08, 2012 12:15pm
Well, if the Quaid-e-Azam's close family is suffering what is the possibility our any of our govts will have the decency of helping a footballer's family. We have become a shameful society.
yahya
Sep 07, 2012 11:14pm
thats what we are good at ,paying homage to our dead heroes and never bother when they are alive and in what conditions they are living
M, Feroz Khan
Sep 09, 2012 02:39am
I saw him playing for Dhaka Mohammedan Club. I specailly remember the final between Dhaka Mohammedan and Indinesia in Aga Khan Gold Cup in which Muhammedan lost 2-1. 70% time Mohammean attacked after attacked but could not finish. It was a gane I compare with 1974 world cup final in which Garman defended Hollnd's attack one after another.
MN Elahee
Sep 08, 2012 12:33am
Our prayers for the departed soul, who had won the hearts of millions of Bengalee soccer fans in the 1960s.
Amir Saeed
Sep 07, 2012 10:12pm
He made us proud. Rest in Peace great hero.
Atta Khan
Sep 07, 2012 10:11pm
Football should be given more importance as it is a very good sport then cricket. I pray for the departed soul. He must have died in misery as there are no funds for football in Pakistan. It is Govt and peoples failure.
asif
Sep 10, 2012 09:49am
Why we can't take these legends on board to help revive healthy activities in the country? Why this man “Faisal” been made federal minster, has he ever touched a soccer ball? What a shame! This is the reason our country is in shambles.
asif
Sep 10, 2012 09:54am
Does this "Faisal" guy know what the this game is called in UK and USA and you have made him President of PFF? What a shame!
arsh
Sep 11, 2012 11:35am
same typical message from the PFF president. I can bet, this message was drafted by his secretary not the PFF President. ...."He will remain in my thoughts and my prayers." you did not do anything for him, while he was alive and now you remember in prayers.
shamim iqbal
Sep 10, 2012 10:53am
We salute the greatman.
Waseem Ahmed
Sep 11, 2012 03:22pm
Indeed a great loss to Pakistani Football. May Allah always shower his blessing on him and rest his soul.
Ali Ahsan
Sep 07, 2012 02:36pm
He was 74 as per football journalist Riaz Ahmed's Urdu report that can be found here http://www.footballpakistan.com/2012/09/football-legend-abdul-ghafoor-majna-die/
Mr.T
Sep 07, 2012 06:34pm
Rest in Peace to Captain Abdul Ghafoor, I hope media will make sure the govt will compensate to the hero family...
Hanif Durrani
Sep 07, 2012 06:03pm
The passing of Abdul Ghafoor is indeed a great loss for Makrani Balochs. May Allah bless his soul. Ameen!
Salman Lodhi
Sep 10, 2012 03:42am
Mr. Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, its a good statement you have provided with, I'm certain most of PA's write and share the same well balanced statements among Ministers and other useless creatures of the sort, All he needed was medical help! The Pakistani Government, I'm afraid, is a scared (not sacred, not at all) and a useless organization! so many of these fine players, artists and other great people of the country die with nothing at hand, I'm really glad you guys were silly enough to allow private channels in the country, they keep telling us so many funny stories about you people, believe me I switch to these Desi channels when I feel like watching comedy. Wake up, you often are found sleepy in the TV. Poor Abdul Ghafoor, may Allah rest his soul and give his family peace. Ameen. Regards, Salman F Lodhi