Sports

Sports fraternity pays tribute to Mani B Shah

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Kathmandu :

The sports fraternity today paid tribute to legendary football player Mani Bikram Shah, who passed away yesterday at the age of 51.

Shah, popularly known as Nepali Maradona in football fraternity, breathed his last on Monday evening at the Norvic International Hospital. Shah, who had been suffering from liver problems for a long time, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday. Shah’s body was kept at the Dasharath Stadium where political leaders and sports personalities paid last tribute before he was cremated at Pashupati Aryaghat. He is survived by wife and a son.

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and leaders Prakash Man Singh and Gagan Thapa, CPN UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Minister for Youth and Sports Jagat Bahadur Sunar, CNN Hero Anuradha Koirala, National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista, Nepal Olympic Committee General Secretary Lama Tendi Sherpa, All Nepal Football Association President Karma Tsering Sherpa and other officials, former ANFA President Ganesh Thapa, football players and athletes among other sports personalities paid homage to Shah.

Shah had made his national team debut at the age of 17 during the second South Asian Federation Games in 1985. He ruled Nepali football for 13 years before retiring in 1998. Legendary Shah was of the key member of the national team that won gold medal in the sixth SAF Games in Bangladesh in 1993. The star midfielder of his time, Shah scored six international goals and earned 48 caps from the national jersey.

ANFA Honorary President Tashi Ghale said Shah would remain immortal in Nepali sports. “He spent his entire life for Nepali football and played crucial role in 1993 SAF Games,” said Ghale, who lauded Shah’s contribution in guiding Manang Marshyangdi Club to A Division from D Division. Ghale, who was coach of Shah, said Shah was talented footballer from childhood. “The Nepali team had participated in the Princess Cup U-13 Tournament in Thailand. The Thai Royal family was so impressed with his game against Japan that they invited the Nepali team for dinner.”

Similarly, Birat Jung Shahi, who played along with Shah for MMC and national team, said the demise of Shah was unbelievable. “I am not been able to convince me that he is no more with us,” said Shahi. “Shah was one of the best footballers. It was a confirm goal if he got the ball inside the box or took a free kick outside the penalty area,” added Shahi, who joined MMC along with Shah after Thamel-XI got suspended.

Similarly, former national team skipper Anil Gurung said Shah was the idol for him. “Mani sir was the best footballer and he is my idol. I followed him since my childhood and I was impressed with his style of play. He used to teach me in every game I played at the Dasharath Stadium. I was shocked when I heard that he was no more,” said Gurung, the former MMC skipper.

Legendary footballer Bhim Thapa said Shah was a star player in South Asia, not only Nepal. “Shah had inborn talent and coaches just showed him the way. I have watched him play closely and he Shah was South Asian super star,” said Thapa.

Likewise, Shah’s room partner in international events, goalkeeper Ajar Manandhar was emotional and could not stop tears from his eyes. “We played together at national team, age-group and MMC and we used to stay in the same room. For me, losing Mani Shah is like losing one of my body parts,” he added.

Former national team skipper Hari Khadka described Shah as an extraordinary player. “Nepal did not have a player of that caliber before him and I doubt there will be any in future,” said Khadka.

Published: May 16, 2018 11:00 am