“Great Wall of China”, “Pakistani Pele” and “Black Pearl of Pakistan” were some of the nicnames given to the late Pak interntional football star Abdul Ghafoor Majna who passed away today, 7 Sept 2012, at the age of 74.
Abdul Ghafoor Majna, a Lyari football star of the 1960s and 1970s, passed away after a prolonged battle with paralysis and disease in his native area of Lyari in Karachi as a poor broken man. Abdul Ghafoor leaves behind 2 sons and 3 daughters as mourners.
Abdul Ghafoor Majna was born on 3 August 1938 in Saifi Lane, Baghdadi – one of the historic neighbourhoods of Lyari, Karachi. From an early age, Abdul Ghafoor dazzled the streets of Lyari with his exquisite football skills.
He began his career in 1957 playing for his local side Saifi Sports (Lyari). He then played in the 1958 All-Pakistan President’s Cup for Sindh Government Press (SGP) at the KMC Stadium in Karachi. The same year saw Abdul Ghafoor lead the Karachi Kickers FC to victory in the Aga Khan Gold Cup held at Dacca (Dhaka) in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Abdul Ghafoor made his debut for the Pakistan national football team in 1959 after being called up by team coach Mr McBride for the tours of Burma (Myanmar) and Indo-China. He also played for the Pakistan side in December the same year for the 1960 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers held at Ernakulam (Kochi) in India. He also was the only Pakistani player to feature in an Asian XI side in 1960.
In a later tour of Bombay (Mumbai), he signed up for the famous Calcutta Mohammadan Sporting Club to play as a professional footballer in India. Abdul Ghafoor then also played for the Dacca Mohammadan Sporting Club as well as Victoria FC in former East Pakistan. Abdul Ghafoor was also part of the Pakistan team under captain Omer that played the 1962 Merdaka Cup held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). The team reached the final but lost narrowly to Indonesia 2-1.
In 1964, Abdul Ghafoor toured China with the national team and then was made vice-captain for the tours of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and the RCD Football Cup in Iran in 1965. From 1965 till 1969, Abdul Ghafoor again was part of the Dacca Mohammadan Sporting Club in East Pakistan.
In 1967, Abdul Ghafoor announced his retirement from the national team after he and numerous Karachi footballers had a falling out with then PFF General Secretary, Maj. Malik Muhammad Hussain. In 1971, Abdul Ghafoor joined Karachi Port Trust (KPT) as a player and then became coach before retiring from KPT via golden handshake in 2000.
In 1974, Abdul Ghafoor came out of retirement on the special request of then PFF President Abdul Sattar Gabol to play one last for Pakistan in the 1974 Asian Games.
Both of Abdul Ghafoor’s sons also played football; Abdul Ghani played for Habib Bank (HBL) and Abdul Waheed played for the Pakistan Army’s Multan unit. Abdul Ghafoor’s nephews were also footballers; Allah Bakhsh (PIA) and Muhammad Shafi (HBL), while his brother-in-law Ishtiaq Ahmed played as goalkeeper for HBL.
Abdul Ghafoor suffered a paralysis attack a few years back and was living a life of poverty till his final days. 2 months back, Sindh Minister of Sports announced a Rs 100,000 monthly donation for his treament. However, the legend is now no more. May his soul rest in peace.
Condolences and anguish was expressed by all football and sports lovers from across Pakistan over the late star’s sad demise.
From Quetta, Lala Aurangzeb, Col (Retd) Yunus Changezi, Ayub Dar, and Akbar Raisani; from Lahore, Col (Retd) Mujahidullah Tareen, Hafiz Salman Butt; from Peshawar, FIFA referee Qazi Asif; from Nawabshah, Master Riasat Ali, Sindh FA president Syed Khadim Ali Shah and secretary Hassan Baloch, former PFF General Secretary Ghulam Abbas Baloch, Abdullah Rahi, FIFA referee Abdul Shakoor Baloch, international Ikhlaq Ahmed, FIFA referee Ahmed Jan, and various from all 5 Karachi DFAs, FC Rovers, Karachi United and FootballPakistan.Com (FPDC) staff offered their condolences and prayers for the departed hero of Pakistani football.