Meet Nagaland’s Doctor Who Was India’s First Football Captain, His Story Is Simply Incredible

Talimeren Ao was the first captain of the Indian football group. Fondly referred to as T Ao, or Tay Ao, or Dr Tay, the Nagaland resident has a story that is simply incredible.

He is both an excellent footballer and also a great doctor. Mohun Bagan Captain and Captain of the India Team, he was the flag-bearer of the Indian Olympic contingent at the 1948 London Games. With the FIFA World Cup fever, let us recall this football legend who sparkled with the ball at his feet.

Perhaps one of the most famous Nagas, he was a figurehead of India’s football history, and his name is resonant in the collective memory of the people. In fact, he has two football tournaments in his name.

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Today, we have the IFL, the prominent Indian Football League, where a team called the NorthEast United dominates the focuses table. All things considered, Dr Talimeren Ao was the area's first football legend.

Standing at 5 ft 10 inches, Dr Ao was an athletic– the perfect form for football. An overwhelming midfielder and protector for nine seasons at Mohun Bagan, from 1943 to 1952, he was a colleague of Sailen Manna and Taj Mohammed at the London Olympics. In photos, one can without much of a stretch make out Dr Ao.

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He was born in 1918 in Changki, an Ao town in the then Naga Hills region of Assam, and now in Nagaland's Mokokchung region. His clan, the Aos, are one of the 16 clans of Nagaland. Dr Ao's dad was Subongwati Ningdangri, the main Reverend in the Naga Hills. Dr Ao was the fourth of his 12 kids.

The family moved to the Impur mission compound just after few years of T Ao's birth. It was allotted by the American missionaries.

In 1933, T Ao was sent to the Jorhat Mission School where his skills were seen by both teachers and students.

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From Jorhat, Ao went to Guwahati, to join the Cotton College, in 1937. This is the point at which his game levelled up. During this time, Assam's biggest football club, the Maharana Club, had players who prepared at a ground close to the Cotton College, and T Ao went along with them in their sessions.

As of now playing for Cotton College as a striker, he went ahead to end up his Alma Mater's sports secretary. Ao requested to join the Assamese club, and they let him in.

At the club, Ao changed. From a striker, he was put into the protector/midfielder position, one which he would hold for the duration of his life. Amidst his opportunity at Maharana, Ao displayed splendid football skills. He continued improving his game; however, his dad's last wishes remained in his mind forever. He continued striving for medical seats in schools, and in 1942, his second attempt secured one of two reserved seats for erstwhile undivided Assam, at the Carmichael Medical College in Kolkata.

In the year 1948, while pursuing his studies at the Carmichael Medical College in Kolkata, T Ao, was also the captain of the Indian football team.

At the Olympics, Talimeren proudly carried the flag for the Indian contingent. The team advanced till they met France, who beat them 2-1.

At last in 1953, Talimeren returned home to, when he joined the Kohima Civil Hospital as an Assistant Civil Surgeon. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 80 and was cremated at the Naga Cemetary in Khermahal, Dimapur.

by Vijay Singh | Tue, Jul 17 - 03:17 PM

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