Thazhatheri Abdul Rahaman or Olympian Rahaman as he is popularly known among the football lovers of the State has been the torch bearer of Kerala football across the globe for the last six decades. Olympian Rahaman was born on January 20, 1934 at Kozhikode. He was a key member of the Indian national team which displayed their best performance in the International football arena ever.
As a child, Rahaman was always fascinated about football and stopped his studies as early as the 4th grade to fulfill his dreams of becoming a footballer. He was selected in the team of Independence Sports club, Kozhikode and later joined the Universal Club. Rahaman became the centre of attraction of Malabar football during that period.
In 1954, Rahaman represented the Malabar team which reached the semi-finals of the Rovers Cup in 1954. As the best left back as well as the left winger in the country, selection to the national team came naturally to Rahaman. 19 year old Rahaman marked his debut for the country against Russia in 1955 at Thiruvananthapuram. The call up to Team India was yet again rewarded with a transfer to the erstwhile Rajasthan Club and he also went on to play for Mohun Bagan in 1959. Rahman spearheaded the Bagan defence during the early 60s and also captained the Kolkata giants.
Rahaman represented Bengal in the Santosh Trophy National Football Championship 9 times between 1955 and 1966. He helped the team win 4 titles during this span. He also captained Bangalore to win Santosh Trophy in 1962.
The Indian football team which represented the country in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics also featured Rahaman. The team pulled off a stunning performance at Australia by reaching the semi finals of the most prestigious sports event in the world and even beating the hosts 4-2 en route to the semi-finals. The reminiscence of this triumph are still fresh in the minds of at least a few Indian sports fans. Rahaman was forced to miss the next Olympics at Rome in 1960 due to an injury.Rahaman, Vijayan, Anchery
Rahaman retired from the game on November 10, 1967. In the later stages of his life, the legendary Olympian coached the giants of football like Mohammedan Sporting, Premier Tyres and Travancore Titanium. He died on 15th December 2002 at the age of 69, but he still lives in the minds of several soccer lovers in Kerala.
In 2005, the Kozhikode District Football Association (KDFA) had set up an academy in Kozhikode in memory of Olympian T Abdul Rahaman. The aim of the Olympian Rahaman Memorial Academy of Football (ORMA) is to promote young talent in Kerala especially in the Malabar region. There was also a demand to name the Kozhikode Corporation Stadium (now called EMS Memorial Stadium) in memory of the Olympian.
On a positive note, four of his students are still keeping up the late Olympian’s dream and passion – Universal Soccer School – as homage to the legend of Indian football. This football academy, aimed at educating and training youth in football, has contributed continually to Kerala football by changing raw talent into true professionals and preparing them for the challenges of the game in the modern times.