The sporting world also lost some of its favorite pupil this year.
Diego Maradona (October 1960 — November 2020)
One of the greatest footballers of all time, the World Cup-winning footballer represented Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, and Newell’s Old Boys as a player. Diego was considered solely responsible for taking Argentina to their second World Cup title in 1986. With the Argentine team, he won the World Cup at Mexico 86, a tournament in which he stood out, above all, in a match against England.
PK Banerjee (June 1936 – March 2020)
The former India football captain PK Banerjee passed away at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness in March. The legendary Indian footballer was an integral part of India’s gold medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.
Banerjee, who was the first footballer to receive the Arjuna Award (in 1961), represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finished fourth. Banerjee was also bestowed with the FIFA Fairplay Award (in 1990), and the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.
Balbir Singh Sr (December 1923 – May 2020)
Three times Olympic medal-winning hockey legend, Balbir Singh Sr. passed away on May 25 due to multiple health issues at the age of 96. The iconic center-forward was one of India’s most accomplished athletes and was the only Indian among the 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympic history. He won three gold medals — in 1948 in London, in 1952 in Helsinki, and in 1956 in Melbourne. Balbir Singh is still remembered for scoring five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Helsinki Games in 1952. In 1957, he was conferred with Padma Shri Award for his contributions and achievements in the field of hockey.
Dean Jones (March 1961 — September 2020)
Former Australia cricketer Dean Jones passed away due to a cardiac arrest at the age of 59 on September 24 during the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). A gritty, attacking player, the Victorian made 3631 runs at an average of 46.55 in Tests, while in ODIs he made 6068 runs, at 44.61, with seven hundreds and 46 fifties. He also remains No.5 on the all-time ICC Batting Rankings in the format.
His most memorable Test innings came in 1986 when in the heat and humidity of Chennai, he battled exhaustion and illness to make a heroic 210 in what would be only the second tied Test ever.
Jones went on to make 10 more hundreds, with a career-best 216 against West Indies in Adelaide in 1989. He retired from international cricket in 1994 – much too early, according to his supporters, but went on to play first-class cricket till the 1997/98 season.