Forgotten Hero: Puran Bahadur Thapa- A hattrick man
Hailing from Nasapatighari in Upper Mawperm in Shillong, born in 1928, Puran Bahadur Thapa was a household name in the 1950s when he took the field and entertained fans with his stunning left-footer skill.
A center midfielder who was versatile in any position is remembered for his hat-trick in an international match against Pakistan in the Quadrangular football tournament at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata in 1954.
It was the first hat-trick by an Indian in international football. Puran Bahadur´s hat-trick enabled India to win the tie 3-1 and win the Quadrangular trophy for the third successive year.
In 1955 he was lined up for India against the USSR Services team in an international match at the National Stadium, in Delhi. This USSR Services team contained legendary names like goalkeeper Lev Yashin, midfielders Igor Netto and Boris Tatushin.
It was said that, after the match, the manager of the Soviet team went to the press box and enquired about the background of Puran Bahadur who looked impressed with Thapa
His left-footed shots were so accurate and powerful that it entertained fans from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in the 1950s.
Puran Bahadur joined Army in 1947 and despite several offers from Kolkata clubs, he never left his army job and retired as Lt. Colonel after excelling in his football career.
Puran Bahadur, however, failed to represent India in the major international tournament like the Asian Games or the Olympics for a number of reasons. One of the reason, it was felt, that he had not played from any of the big clubs in Bengal or Bombay or anywhere else in India despite many offers.
Thapa also holds the distinction of being the first coach of Shillong Lajong FC which was then known as Lajong Sports and Cultural Club.
Puran Bahadur Thapa the man who scored India´s first International hat-trick....