Nowadays Goa is not a giant in Indian football, but a few years back they produced tons of talented footballers – starting from legendary Neville D’Souza, Derrick D’Souza, Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, Bruno Coutinho, Candido Abreu, Mauricio Afonso, Derrick Pereira to Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Mahesh Gawli, John Dias, Anthony Pereira etc.

Goa, in-spite of producing such talents, did not possess a club which could compete with the giants from Kolkata, Punjab and Hyderabad. Vasco SC, the oldest club of Goa, could not cope up with the competition from their national rivals. This picture started to change in the 1980s. Salgaocar S.C, founded as Vimson FC in 1955, was the first club to show Indians that Goanese teams can also own the national stage when they became Federation Cup champions in 1988 and 1989.

The key to Salgaocar’s success in the ‘80s was former Olympian T. Shanmugam. He was the heart of the midfield of the 1951 Asian Games champion squad. He was known for his physicality, interceptions and accurate passing. Another fellow Olympian, S.S. Hakeem played a significant role in the transition phase of the club. He started building a team with local Goanese players. Hakeem, son of legendary coach Rahim Saheb, was a strict disciplinarian like his father. He also possessed his father’s trait of scouting and grooming young talents. Hakeem’s greatest contribution to Goa and Indian football is Derrick Pereira. Derrick Pereira used to lead a very undisciplined life. His frequent visits to bars worried Hakeem. Ultimately, with help from Salgaocar management, he was able to carve out the greatest Indian defender of 1980s from a Bohemian raw talent. Salgaocar’s transformation accelerated when Shanmugam took over the reign from Hakeem in 1985.

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May 15, 2022

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