04 Apr 2024  |   06:03am IST

Celebrated footballer Eugenio Cardozo passes away

Celebrated footballer Eugenio Cardozo passes away

Team Herald

PANJIM: One of Goa’s most talented goalkeepers and volleyball player of the 70s, Eugenio Cardozo passed away on Wednesday morning at a local hospital. He was 70 years old. His demise was moaned by members of the academic and football community in the State.

Cardozo was a celebrated football player. He was part of the 1979 and 1980 Rovers Cup winning squads of Dempo Sports Club. In fact, he helped the club to annex the 1980 title in Bombay without conceding a goal. When in form, Cardozo was unbeatable: for example, Dempo won the 1976 Bandodkar Gold Trophy and the 1979 Stafford Challenge Cup in Bangalore by keeping a clean slate. In the entire 1980 Senior Division League winning campaign, Cardozo was beaten just three times. To add to his reputation, the sturdy goalkeeper from Candolim once saved four out of the five penalties in the tiebreaker against arch rivals Salgaocar in the 1980 Taca Goa semi-final to earn Dempo a memorable win.

His contribution under the bar in several successful campaigns was such that after he hung up his gloves, the club was hard-pressed to find a worthy successor to Eugenio Cardozo despite trying out a number of replacements. His reflexes and his ability to deal with crosses and high balls made him a goalkeeper of a high order. Dempo Sports Club President, Shrinivas Dempo, shared a heartfelt tribute to Eugenio Cardozo, stating, "Eugenio wasn't just a goalkeeper for Dempo; he was a wall we could always rely on. He served the Club with distinction for several years.  His agility and dedication played an important role in securing victories such as the Rovers Cup and the Bandodkar Gold Trophy and many others.  The Dempo family remembers him fondly, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time."

Padma Shri Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, international goalkeeper from the 70s, said Eugenio was a player with a phenomenal physique who had the perfect fitness for a goalkeeper. He said, “He had agility and a good grip of the ball. In 1972, he was selected for Dempos while I played for Salgaocars, but we remained very good friends. He represented Goa twice at the Nationals, the first time in 1972 when it was held in Goa. In 1979, when the Nationals were held in Coimbatore, he was part of the squad and was my roommate. We never had any differences, we used to share jokes and trained together. He was part of Goa’s 1977 tour of the North East and did fantastically well but on his return he had a knee injury and that ended his career.” 

Sankhwalkar went on to say that in 1989 when Sports Authority of Goa was started, Eugenio joined them. He was a sports teacher in Dayanand Bandodkar Memorial School, Verem. Brahmanand said on Good Friday he learned that his good friend had been admitted to the hospital and was shocked to learn he had passed away on Wednesday morning.

Eugenio's son Ricardo Cardozo said, “He inspired me as a player and as a father. I used to be a goalkeeper too but now I run a football academy and a club.”   

Former AIFF General Secretary Alberto Colaco said Goa had lost two important players – one was Avinder Singh who was a good goalkeeper for Vasco and the mainstay of a great team and Eugenio who played for Dempo for ten years. He said, “He was part of a team that won the Rovers Cup, the Bandodkar Gold Cup and many other tournaments. He was an active and jolly person. I saw him last a year and a half ago at his colleague Sukur Kutin  80th birthday. He was the main entertainer, singing and composing songs. He was also narrating stories about the times in Dempo FC. He was strongly built and courageous.”

Another former player, Sanjiv Nagvekar, who was a goalkeeper at Salgaocar FC  said, “He was my best friend. He was in Dempo and I was in Salgaocar. He was a good singer and a good person. He played several times in the Santosh trophy.”

Eugenio was also an enthusiastic actor/singer in tiatrs. Former Speaker and tiatr director Tomazinho Cardozo for whom Eugenio acted in several tiatrs had much to say. Cardozo said, “He was a good sportsman. He started playing for Saipem Sports Club. He is from that ward in Candolim. He then played for Candolim Sports Club and finally for Dempo Sports Club. He was an excellent goalkeeper and helped Dempo win many titles. As a tiatrist, he was a good singer and a character actor. He used to compose his own songs and in my tiatrs he dished out many hit songs and helped to better the performance of the tiatr. He was also a good compere mostly at weddings.”

His absence will be certainly felt by the academic and the sports fraternity, and his family and friends at large. 


Iddhar Udhar