Friends, fans and family bid farewell to hockey ace Claudius
Amid a guard of honour with hockey sticks, the mortal remains of legendary hockey Olympian Leslie Claudius were carried to the Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the city hub for the final mass before being taken for funeral as former players, friends and politicos paid their last respects yesterday.
With his family desirous of a sombre affair, the hockey great was not accorded state honours on his final journey.
The triple Olympic gold medallist’s body was kept for public veneration at the Rabindra Sadan where former hockey greats Gurbux Singh and Bir Bahadur Chettri and the current crop of players from the Calcutta Customs, of which Claudius was a part for long, laid floral wreaths.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, however, could not be present on the occasion and had sent her floral tribute which was carried by Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee. State Sports Minister Madan Mitra was also present.
Claudius’ final journey began from the Calcutta Customs and then to the Veteran’s Club where his former club teammates and another legend from the game Keshav Dutt paid homage, before his body was brought to Rabindra Sadan.
Famed former footballers Chuni Goswami and Badru Banerjee, former state sports minister Kanti Ganguly, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Rabin Deb and Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien were among the many to pay their last respects.
The funeral journey was to conclude at the Lower Circular Road Cemetery in Mullick Bazar.
After a prolonged bout with illness, Claudius passed away Dec 20. He is survived by his wife Vilia and three sons. He used to live with his youngest son, Brandon, at a rented flat on the second floor of a mansion on McLeod Street.