The once striker of the national team reminisces about his heydays

Profile: Friday, 4:30pm: Two Indian men walk out of an office in Changangkha in Thimphu.  Inside the room, Goutam Mukherjee, CEO of KCR private limited, is silhouetted blackness.  He looks tired.  His personal secretary is seated next to him with a notepad taking notes.

From Kolkata, India, Goutam Mukherjee, 52, is one of the many non-national individuals, who played for the national football team from 1979 to 1982.

Goutam came to Bhutan in 1979 on the invitation of Urgan Lama, the then captain of the national football squad.  He was to play for the Food Corporation of Bhutan’s (FCB) team in the Thimphu A League.

Sipping black coffee, Goutam Mukherjee said that he was offered to play for the national team after his match in the semi-finals of the A league tournament in Thimphu.

“Dasho HK Humagai gave me an appointment letter right after that match,” said Mukherjee. “He was the man, who gave me the opportunity to play for Bhutan.”

Playing for the national team, Mukherjee earned the nickname “The Black Horse”.  Smiling, Mukherjee said the moment his teammates saw him in the other half, they would start passing the ball, thinking that he would get it anyhow.

It was a time when top players from Jalpaiguri, Birpara and Assam came to form Druk 11.  “Eight of the Druk 11 were Indians,” said Goutam Mukherjee.  Druk 11 played several matches in the country, as well as in places like Nepal, Delhi, Kalimpong, and Assam.

Mukherjee was one of the Druk 11 strikers and scored several goals for the national team.  He still remembers the match against Food Corporation of India.  He scored the winning goal of the game, when Urgan Lama passed him a long shot from the centre.  That gave Bhutan team a victory.

“I remember the hat-trick goal I scored during a match against the ministry of development. “I could hit some good headers.”

With memories came embarrassing moments too.  Recollecting a few of those moments, Mukherjee said that his last professional match in Nepal was the biggest fun he ever had.  He missed an open post during the game.

“My knee was hurting. I missed the shot. The audience went wild after I missed the kick,” said Mukherjee.

Mukherjee left the country in 1982 and settled in Nepal for some time. “I came back in 1998 for some business purpose,” said Mukherjee.

Ugen Tshechup Dorji, president of Bhutan Football Federation, made Mukherjee the general manager of Singye Group of Companies.

“I’m an Indian but I’m proud to say that whatever I am today is because of Bhutan and Bhutanese like Ugen Tshechup Dorji,” said Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said that football in Bhutan had changed drastically. “During our time, there were no good facilities like we have today. But then, there was no demand as well,” said Mukherjee. “Bhutan has a bright football future.”

Goutam Mukherjee started playing football professionally at 14.  He scored over 178 goals in his 10-year professional career.

Goutam Mukherjee is currently the chief executive officer of KCR private limited, an FDI company in the country.

By Younten Tshedup