Nowsher was under life support for the last 12 days at Ibne Sina Hospital after being affected by Covid-19 earlier this month
AKM Nowsheruzzaman, a player of the historic Swadhin Bangla Football Team, former national team forward and also an ex-cricketer, was laid to eternal rest at his village in Matlab Uttar Upazilla of Chandpur district Tuesday after breathing his last in the capital the previous night.
He was under life support for last 12 days at Ibne Sina Hospital, Kalyanpur of the capital, after being affected by Covid-19 earlier in the month.
His body was taken to the Bangabandhu National Stadium where his first namaz-e-janaza was held in the morning.
It was the place where Nowsher had extensive involvement playing countless number of top-flight matches, both football and cricket, throughout the 1970s and 80s.
His second namaz-e-janaza was held at Munshiganj Jame Masjid before he was laid to rest at his village in Badarpur Sikder Bari in Sadullahpur union, Matlab North Upazilla in Chandpur district in the evening.
Veteran members of Swadhin Bangla team, former national footballers, teammates, family members, officials of Bangladesh Football Federation and his former clubs were among many who paid tribute to the legendary footballer at the BNS.
Abdus Sattar, a member of Swadhin Bangla team, remembered, “His contribution to the Swadhin Bangla team can’t be expressed in words. When the team was formed he always took care of us in the camp in India. He was a jolly minded person. We were often worried about the situation (war) in the country. He always inspired and supported us during that tough time.
“The sad thing is, this is the field (BNS) where he entertained the whole stadium. He always tried to fulfill his responsibility. At Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited, he once became the highest scorer in the league.”
Nowsher joined the traditional powerhouse Mohammedan in 1975 and stayed there for three years.
The striker led Mohammedan to the league title in his debut season as the top-scorer.
“Nowsher bhai was a famous footballer in the 70s. I had the opportunity to play with him, at Mohammedan in 1977 and Aga Khan Gold Cup. He was a top player. Last time I met him was in August. I never thought he would leave us in this manner after being infected by coronavirus,” said former national footballer Abdul Gaffar.
Gaffar also reminded Nowsher’s regret of Swadhin Bangla team not receiving any official recognition yet.
He said, “It’s very sad that he left us without seeing it happen.”
AFM Badiuzzaman, elder brother of Nowsher and also camp commandant of Swadhin Bangla team, expressed deep gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for taking regular update and full expenditure of the treatment.
“Six of our seven brothers played football. Three of them (Sharifuzzaman, Arifuzzaman, and Nowsher) played for Mohammedan. Nowsher was an eminent footballer. He has a record of scoring 22 goals in a single season. He was also a great cricketer,” said Badiuzzaman.
Nowsher left behind his wife, a son, a daughter and many more to mourn his demise.
His wife Jafrin Zaman also tested Covid-19 positive and returned home Monday.
Son Mainuzzaman Rupom and daughter Simin Zaman live in the USA and Canada respectively.
“We couldn’t watch his games but we heard how great a footballer my father was. He was more than a human being to me. Everyone please pray for his soul,” said Nowsher’s son Rupom, who recently came to Dhaka.
An all-round sports person
Nowsher was born in a respectable family in 1949 at Munshiganj sadar where his father had shifted earlier due to professional responsibility.
He grew up there before moving to Dhaka in 1967 to build a football career.
Nowsher started his playing career as left out or winger for Wari Club before moving to Fire Service in 1969 and Victoria in 1970.
He took football as weapon during the Liberation War as he toured and played exhibition matches in India with Swadhin Bangla team to raise funds and spread awareness.
After the Independence, Nowsher was a regular member of the national team until 1976.
He was the member of Dhaka Ekadosh (XI), the first Bangladesh team to tour abroad in 1972.
He also represented the country in two international tournaments, Merdeka Cup 1973 and 1975.
Nowsher transformed himself as a striker during his three-year spell at Wapda team following which he moved to Mohammedan.
He retired from football at Wanderers Club in 1980.
Nowsher, a Blue of Dhaka University where he studied Zoology, also played cricket during the football off-season, starting from 1974.
As an opening batsman and off-spinner, he continued playing cricket for Mohammedan, Wanderers Club, Victoria Sporting Club and Kalabagan Krira Chakra until 1990.