Syed Abdul Rahim guided the Indian football team to a gold medal at the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games.

The upcoming Bollywood movie, Maidaan, will tell the story of Syed Abdul Rahim, a legendary manager who deserves huge credit for the rise of Indian football in the late 1900s. Ajay Devgn will portray the character of Rahim in the film, directed by Amit Sharma.

Rahim served as the coach of the Indian football team for over a decade from 1950 to 1963. During this period, regarded as the “Golden Age of Indian Football”, the country secured two gold medals at the Asian Games in 1951 and 1962.

Rahim was born on August 17, 1909, in Hyderabad. He took a teaching job in his early days before shifting focus to football. He did his graduation from Osmania University and also represented a team featuring former students of the college. Rahim worked as a teacher at several institutions including Kachiguda Middle School, Urdu Sharif School, Darul-ul-Uloom High School and Chaderghat High School.

Rahim also earned a diploma in physical education and then went on to emerge as a professional footballer. He played for a local club Qamar Club and also represented the Dutch Amateur League club HSV Hoek in the Netherlands.

Rahim was at the helm of the Hyderabad Football Association from 1943 and held the position till his death. In 1950 he became the coach of the Hyderabad Police. Under his guidance, the team triumphed in the Rovers Cup five times in a row and lifted the Durand Cup four times. India refused to compete in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, then known as the Jules Rihmet Trophy.

After one year, they became the best team in Asia by winning gold at the continental showpiece. In the final of the Asian Games, India edged Iran to secure a 1-0 win in front of a packed home crowd in Delhi. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was also present at the stadium to watch the match live.

When Rahim kicked off his managerial career, most of the teams in the world were playing the 2-3-5 formation. The Indian mastermind was the one who introduced the 4-2-2 system, which was later popularised by Brazil in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups. Under his guidance, India also secured fourth place in the 1956 Summer Olympics.

On the day when India took the field for the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Rahim had less than 10 months to live as he was suffering from cancer. His team was able to beat South Korea 2-1 in the summit clash to reclaim the gold after more than 10 years.

Rahim breathed his last on June 11, 1963, at the age of 53.


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