Syed Abdul Rahim: The Football Coach Whose True Story Has Inspired Maidaan

The hustle and bustle of daily life has made it hard to believe that we are almost in the middle of 2023. But one good news is that some great Hindi films will hit the theatres in the coming months. Maidaan is one of them. The upcoming film stars Ajay Devgan as a Football coach. It is based on the true story of Syed Abdul Rahim, who made the Indian Football team accomplish some of its most challenging goals. The film is produced by Boney Kapoor and Zee Studios. It has been directed by Amit Sharma, who is known for directing Tevar and Badhai Ho. The film’s other cast includes Gajraj Rao, Rudranil Ghosh, and Priyamni. Ever since the film’s teaser was released, there has been an air of excitement about its release.

Is Maidaan Based on a True Story?

The film is a biographical drama based on the true story of legendary Indian Football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. It traces how he led the Indian Team to victory in international competition when the resources and money were limited. Under his guidance, the Indian Football Team created history from 1952 to 1962 and won gold medals at some of the most competitive international matches.

Who is Syed Abdul Rahim?

Maidaan follows the story of a forgotten football coach, Syed Abdul Rahim. We see him as a deep and pensive coach who will not let any barrier deter the team from performing well and lead the Indian Football team to victory in various national and international matches. Let us decode the real Syed Abdul Rahim, who is also considered the architect of modern Indian Football.

Syed Abdul Rahim was a football player who became the greatest Indian football coach. He was born in Hyderabad on August 17, 1909, and started his career as a school teacher. Later, he took a diploma in physical education and took charge of sports activities at his school. After that, he left teaching and started playing football professionally for Qamar Club in Hyderabad. In 1943 he moved toward the management of football teams. He was elected to be the secretary of the Hyderabad Football Association and later of Andhra Pradesh Football Association. He played a significant role in building a robust infrastructure for the game in the twin cities. After that, he joined the Hyderabad City Police FC.

He started managing and coaching the Indian Football team in 1950. His teaching career and experience with the Hyderabad City Police FC team gave him leverage to coach teams with limited resources, using tactics and sticking to discipline. Rahim is credited to have introduced the classic 4-2-4 formation much before the 1958 World Cup, where Brazil popularised it.

Source: Wikipedia (India national football team before the 1960 Olympics. Coach Syed Rahim is at the center of the Front row)

The team saw enormous success on the global stage under his guidance. Some of the most successful tournaments under his direction as a coach were:

1951 Asian Games in New Delhi

The 1951 Asian Games was the inaugural Asian Games in India, and the Indian Football Team won the championship. They defeated Iran 1-0 to win the gold medal. 

1956 Melbourne Olympics

The Indians were able to make it to the semifinals of the Melbourne Olympics. It is considered the best-ever performance of the Indian Football team, and it was the first football team from Asia to achieve this feat.

1960 Summer Olympics in Rome

The Indian Football team made it to the Rome Summer Olympics in 1960. However, the Indian team lost to Hungary in the first match by 2-1. The next game with France, the 1958 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist was one of the most memorable games in the history of Indian Football where it had taken the lead at the 71st minute. However, a late equaliser from France resulted in the match ending in a draw. It is considered one of the team’s most electrifying performances.

1962 Asian Games in Jakarta
India won Gold defeating South Korea in the final. This was his last most successful match as a coach. Before the match, his last words to the players were, “Kal aap logon se mujhe ek tohfa chahiye….kal aap sona jitlo.”


He nurtured the Indian players during his tenure as coach. Some of the famous players of the Bygones era that he coached include Nikhil Nandy, Kesto Pal, Peter Thangaraj, Chuni Goswami, Tulsidas Balram, Sheikh Abdul Latif, Hussian Ahmed, Amal Dutta, among others.

Mohammed Zulfiqaruddin, one of the former players, described Rahim as
“He was a master at work. He made the Indian football team a formidable unit. He had the uncanny ability to spot talent and turn them into solid players. But he was a strict disciplinarian.”

When Alberto Fernando, the Indian National Coach, went to Brazil for a workshop in 1964, he said,
What I learnt from Rahim in 1956 is being taught now in Brazil. Verily, he was a football prophet.

He led India to many victories until his death from Cancer in 1963. Sixty years have passed since he died, but his contributions remain unparalleled in the field. Indian Football could not continue the success that it witnessed under Rahim Saab. India participated in the Asian Games in 1966 but could not make it to the qualifying rounds. Over the years, the team’s performance gradually declined, and it is no longer considered the major Football player in Asia.

Fortunato Franco, a former Indian football player, said about the coach,
With him, he took Indian Football to the grave.

When Will Maidaan release?

The much-anticipated film is expected to be released in theatres on June 23. However, recent reports indicate that there might be a delay in the release.

Looking at the life of legends like Syed Abdul Rahman who have left an indelible mark on the world only makes us feel proud of our rich legacy. And it shows we Indians can excel at anything and everything.

You might also like
cialis 5mg kaufen potenzmittel kaufen cialis