One of India’s all-time legends returned to the football pitch on Saturday, when Inivalappil Mani Vijayan made a cameo appearance for his former club Kerala Police against SAI Chennai at the AIMA-TFA Shield 2012.
The “Black Pearl” of Indian football retired from footbal in 2006 and spent the years after his playing career as an actor in Malayalm movies, concentrated on his Football School that he had opened in Thrissur and also some coaching assignments.
There were many stars in Indian football, but Vijayan is considered as the best footballer India has ever produced and even legendary Baichung Bhutia named his former Indian national team teammate as his all-time favourite.
Vijayan stepped on to the field in a legendary number 10 jersey for his former club Kerala Police ten minutes from the final whistle. The crowd at Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium errupted when they noticed the former India superstar’s comeback.
The 43-year-old Keralite made his last appearance for the Kerala Police team in 1993 and he was delighted to get another chance to play for one his past clubs.
“Yes, they are kids. It’s a young side. And you could feel the respect to towards me from the youngsters,” Vijayan told at the sidelines of the match.
“I played for this team in times when the likes of CV Pappachan were the seniors. Now I’m the senior,” he continued. “It is great fun to play along with these kids.”
Kerala Police won the match 3-1 with Firoz (2x) and Jipson scoring the goals for the visitors, while Jaison scored the lone goal for SAI Chennai.
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