Ajay Devgn’s ‘Maidaan’ based on Telangana’s unsung hero ‘Rahim Saab’

In the annals of Indian football, few names resonate with as much reverence and admiration as that of Syed Abdul Rahim. The recent Bollywood release ‘Maidaan’ starring Ajay Devgn is based on the life story of Telangana’s unsung hero Syed Abdul Rahim, fondly called ‘Rahim Saab.

Hailing from Hyderabad, Rahim’s journey embodies the essence of determination, passion, and unparalleled coaching acumen. Often hailed as the man behind the ‘golden era’ of Indian football, Rahim Saab left an indelible mark on the sport.  Born in 1909, Syed Abdul Rahim’s early life was marked by a deep love for the game. Rahim’s association with the Hyderabad City Police Club in 1950 marked the beginning of a remarkable chapter in Indian football history. Under his guidance, the club achieved unprecedented success, capturing the imagination of football enthusiasts across the nation.

However, Rahim’s impact extended far beyond the confines of club football. In 1952, he assumed the role of coach and manager of the Indian national football team, a position he would hold until his untimely demise in 1963. During his tenure, Rahim orchestrated a footballing revolution, instilling a sense of discipline, unity, and unwavering determination within the team. His astute tactics and innovative approach transformed the Indian team into a formidable force on the international stage.

One of Rahim’s most notable achievements was leading the Indian team to victory in the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, cementing their status as continental champions. His emphasis on technical proficiency, physical fitness, and mental resilience set a new standard for Indian football, inspiring generations of players to dream big and aim for excellence.

During Rahim’s tenure, the Indian football team experienced remarkable success. In addition to clinching victory at the Asian Games in 1951 and 1962, India achieved a historic feat by reaching the semi-finals of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, widely regarded as the pinnacle of Indian football achievements. Under Rahim’s astute coaching during this tournament, players such as Neville D’Souza, Samar Banerjee, P. K. Banerjee, and J. Krishnaswamy gained global recognition.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, India’s journey saw them narrowly lose 2-1 to Hungary in their opening match. The team came close to upsetting the 1958 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists France just days later. Rahim’s crowning achievement came at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, where India secured gold by defeating South Korea in the finals. This victory marked Rahim’s last major success before his passing.

Despite his monumental contributions to Indian football, Rahim remained a humble and unassuming figure, often preferring to let his work speak for itself. His unparalleled dedication endeared him to players and fans alike and made him the ‘architect of modern Indian football’ and the Indian team earned the moniker ‘Brazil of Asia’ during his accomplished tenure. 

The release of the biopic ‘Maidaan’ starring Ajay Devgn as Syed Abdul Rahim, serves as a poignant tribute to the man behind India’s football renaissance. The film offers a compelling narrative that captures the essence of Rahim’s indomitable spirit and enduring legacy.