He will forever be in my heart: Douglas Silva remembers his ‘Boss’ Subhas Bhowmick

With two back-to-back league titles and the ASEAN Cup, Douglas Silva is one of the best players to have ever graced Indian football. Known for his tough tackling, aerial presence, and physical dominance, the Brazilian managed to carve out an iconic status in the hearts of the red and gold fans. Most of his success came under the watchful eyes of Subhas Bhowmick, the East Bengal coach during that time. After Bhowmick passed away on Saturday, Silva writes a heartfelt tribute for his ‘Boss’:

“I am still shattered. I do not know what to say, how to express my feelings. I am far away from India but India has always been my second home, courtesy of my unforgettable stint with one of the best clubs in India, East Bengal.

Last night, I was about to go to bed. I have a habit of browsing the internet before falling asleep but who would have known that I would come across such terrible news? In one of the Facebook groups I am in, I saw a post regarding the sad demise of Subhas Bhowmick. I have been in touch with him forever. I had also learned that he was not well and had been hospitalised. I have prayed to the almighty so that he came out of this well and healthy. When he was admitted a couple of days back, I hoped all would be fine. I kept tabs on him and found out that his health was deteriorating, having gone through several rounds of dialysis.

Just to confirm the news, I messaged some of my friends in Kolkata and they informed me that he had passed away. Since hearing that news, I could not sleep the whole night.

Subhas Bhowmick, Subhas Bhowmick as the coach of East Bengal. (East Bengal Twitter)

I used to call him Boss. I am a product of Brazilian club Santos and I have played under several coaches, in my country as well as in India but Subhas Bhowmick was one of best. His man-management skill was world-class. I have been a success in Indian football solely because of my ‘Boss’. Even though I came from a different country, the way he used to treat me made me feel like I am no different from the other players.

After my stint with East Bengal, I played for Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan FC as well as for Bhawanipore. I can now confess that I loved to stay back in India just to be in touch with him and it’s only because of him that I played there for several seasons.

Douglas Silva. (File Photo)

Unlike other Indian coaches, his knowledge about football outside India was vast. He was well educated and he implemented his knowledge in football. The way he used to motivate footballers was very unique. I have learned a lot about Indian football and culture from him.

Douglas Silva with Subhash Bhowmick. (Image courtesy : Douglas Silva facebook)

After the historic triumph in the ASEAN cup, he was very worried. He must have thought we would be difficult to handle after the win. But I gave my best till my last breath under him and won numerous trophies together.

I am still unbeaten in the Kolkata derby. And a large part of this is because of him. Before every derby, he used to remind us that practice could win matches. So there was no scope of sluggishness during those tough weeks before the derby. In reply, I often used to say to him, “Boss, I will be on the field, no worries.”

After I closed the chapter as a footballer, I tried my luck as a coach in several clubs in Brazil, India, Bangladesh. There is no denying the fact that my coaching style is heavily influenced by him.

I can still remember the first day I met him in East Bengal. Before training, he asked me if I wanted something to eat. The last conversation we had was similar to what he said in the first meeting. A few months back, I was roped in by I league side Trau FC. Learning that I am coming back to India, Boss invited me to his home in New Alipore. He asked what I would prefer to eat. “Don’t forget to tell me what you would prefer to eat before setting foot in Kolkata. I will prepare everything for you.” These were the last words that he said to me. I planned to visit his home once this pandemic gets over. But now, I would never be able to fulfill his last invitation. He will forever be in my heart.”

(As told to Subhasish Hazra)

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