New Delhi: Syed Nayeemuddin, the great Indian footballer of the past and perhaps one of the greatest coaches Indian football has ever had, today finds himself in financial distress. Since being removed by the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) from the post of India's coach on March 2, 2006 after the national team's 0-3 home defeat to Yemen in the Asian Cup qualifiers, Nayeemuddin has never got an opportunity to coach at any level. Despite 35 trophies as club coach and three international trophies as national coach as well as an Arjuna award (1972) and Dronacharya award (1992), Nayeemuddin is an unwanted man.
Though a professional coach, he has no other source of income and is dependent on his sons. He has tried coaching at the junior level but was ignored. Ironically, on the same date that Nayeemuddin was sacked as India's coach, March 2, Sports and Beyond, an organisation which has helped a number of footballers in the recent past, is hosting a benefit match for him.
The 69-year-old legend of Indian football - who represented the country from 1964 to 1971 and was selected for the Asian All Stars team - spoke to IBNLive Sports about his agony and frustration.
Sports and Beyond have organized a benefit match for you. What do you feel about it?
It is really great and I feel honoured, but they should have organized it in a better way, it should have had class. With all due respect to them, why should I get such less money? I have 35 trophies so I deserve more. I am happy to receive the honour but I need something more than that. Tiger kabhi ghaas nahi khaata (A tiger never eats grass).
You have all the qualification and a tremendous record as coach. Why then do you believe you were sacked as coach of India?
I have all the licenses as a coach; I have given great results to Indian football. I went to Europe, Japan and Brazil to meet world class footballers like Zidane, Kaka, Nakata. I saw how they prepare and I wanted those facilities in my country, but was unable to achieve this. I fought for food, mineral water and all other basic things. There should be a CBI enquiry on all these. I never got any support from AIFF. Over the last six years so many crores have been spent, but where are the results?
With due respect to all the foreign coaches, I want to know what is the result? My record says I was not bad but after that how many trophies have we won? We lost to Singapore and Palestine and opponents scored 13 goals against India in just four matches. There are some officials who spoil careers. Officials do not sack foreign coaches despite bad results but we the Indian coaches will get sacked without any reason.
You brought Baichung Bhutia into the limelight. Do you think he could have done something for you?
I won't comment on this but everything should be investigated. A lot of things happened which need answering.
You believe a CBI investigation should be launched against the AIFF?
Did you receive any kind of help from anybody?
Nothing. Wim Koevermans is getting 40 lakhs per month but he is yet to produce results. The AIFF has paid Bob Houghton a lot of money but we did not get any result. I respect foreign coaches but I want to know why there is such a disparity in terms of money? I think the main reason is that AIFF can't dictate us but they can to foreign coaches. I have an appeal - save Indian football and save Naeemuddin.
You approached the Bengal state government for help. What happened?
I approached the government last year for a plot of land but I haven't got it yet. A lot of players and coaches have got it and I am also eligible for this. Why should I suffer all the time?