A legend returns. Invalappil Mani Vijayan, better known as I.M. Vijayan, is back in the Mecca of Indian football - Kolkata. But this time not as a football player, but as the coach of promoted Calcutta Premier Division outfit Southern Samity. Yesterday was his first training day with his new team at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium and it was of interest though the former India captain has chosen to start his coaching career with a smaller side.
Vijayan told the media present that he was happy to be back in Kolkata and hoped to prove his worth as a coach. Vijayan has been given a one year contract by Southern Samiti and hopes to be competitive with his team in the tough Calcutta Premier League.
The "black pearl" of Indian football as Vijayan was dubbed in Kolkata during his playing days for Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal Club returns to the "City of Joy" to start his second career in football. The now 41 year old aims to learn the coaching trade and train his team with his years of playing experience. And if Vijayan has one thing, then it is match experience plus technical class and abilities. In fact Vijayan has been one of the best footballers ever to have played for India. And I still remember a journalist from Sky Sports telling me in summer 2001 that if Vijayan had been born in Brazil or Argentina, then he could have been a world star after watching him train and play. The journalist had told me, Vijayan would have been scouted at a young age, brought to some club in Europe and would have been developed further as a footballer. Maybe Vijayan can teach his wards the basics that they achieve what he couldn't.
I.M. Vijayan recently passed the AFC's 'B' Licence Coaching Course in Hosur, Tamil Nadu conducted by the AIFF's Director of Coaching Gabriel E. Joseph for coaches holding the 'C' Coaching Licence. Vijayan aims to next obtain the 'A' Coaching Licence and in future would love to be attached to the Indian national team in "any" capacity as he said.
All the best to you Vijubhai!