The Last Goal - Remembering Cristiano Junior
He scored a goal but never got up again to celebrate. 8 years on, in loving memory of Cristiano, FeverPitch.in pays tribute to the "Brazilian Magician."
Remembering one of the most exciting foreigners to have graced Indian Football, Cristiano Sebastião de Lima Júnior brought that Brazilian flavour to Indian football, which was somewhere missing, but unfortunately his magic was cut short as he headed heaven-way on 5th December 2004.
On this day in 2004, during the Federation Cup final match between Dempo SC and Mohun Bagan, being played at Bangalore, the country witnessed a shocking incident when Cristiano Sebastião de Lima Júnior (Dempo SC) died on the field after a collision with the Mohun Bagan goal-keeper Subrata Paul.
A sad irony, Junior had beautifully placed the ball into the Mohun Bagan net scoring the teams second goal but he never got up to celebrate. Dempo’s 2-0 victory was also overshadowed due to the unfortunate incident.
The video footage of the incident showed players and medical staff trying to revive Junior and the rest of them seeking divine intervention. Finally an ambulance took him to the Hosmat hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
This incident generated a lot of controversy with Dempo SC officials filing a police report against Subrata Paul alleging the Mohun Bagan custodian of deliberately striking Junior. The on-ground medical facilities were also criticized and blamed by one and all. It was alleged that the ambulance didn’t even have an oxygen kit, let alone other life saving apparatus.
Basudev Upreti was present at the stadium when this incident happened and he remembers “Initially we thought, Junior was celebrating the goal but he never got up and referee went near him and frantically called for the medical team, it was then we realized that it was something serious.”
Many more spectators like Basudev saw the incident live on television as well and all of them prayed for Junior’s well being that day. God had other plans and his promising career was cut short.
Junior had also partnered Bhaichung Bhutia at East Bengal, where they had formed a lethal combination. 2003-04 National Football League season saw Junior scoring 15 goals which earned him the highest scorer’s award and also helped East Bengal win the NFL Title. Bhaichung had scored 12 goals and had finished the campaign as the fourth highest scorer.
Dempo SC decided to retire the number 10 shirt which Junior used to wear and also honored his one year contract with the club. East Bengal still has a large portrait of Junior at their club tent with the lines “Adios Junior” written on it. Simple, yet a touching tribute to a wonderful player.
Junior was looking good to reach even bigger heights on Indian soil, but that could never happen. But one thing is for sure, he had earned a lot of love and respect from the fans across the country.
In a short span of time, he had scored some wonderful goals and even with his last breath he scored a goal and gave Dempo, the Federation Cup.
He was born to play football and died doing the same.