Connect with us

Indian Football

Hyderabad City Police – An Indian Football Legend

Football is yet to quite command the attention other sports do in the country, but the Hyderabad City Police are an Indian Footballing Legend. Wasi Manazir tells their story.

On the topic of Indian football and the regions it is most popular in Hyderabad doesn’t feature in most Indian football enthusiasts lists. The triumvirate of Charminar, kebabs and the delectable Hyderabadi biryani dominate every Indian’s mindscape at the mere mention of the City of Pearls. But the city had its heydays in the bygone years.

Football in the erstwhile city of Nawabs – Hyderabad started spreading its wings only during the 1920s. Compared to the eastern part of India, it was pretty late to fall in love with the beautiful game. But once it caught the football fever, and aided by royal patronage particularly of the Nawab of Tarband and the Maharaja of Dhanrajgir, it dominated the national football circuit like no other team had done before and none has done since.

During the golden period of the Hyderabad football beginning in 1940s through the early 1960s a lot of teams emerged and plied their trade all over the Deccan plateau. Some of the prominent ones included A Battery, Ordnance Depot, Railway Recreation Club (now Central Railway), Hyderabad Sporting, Raiders Club, Hyderabad Athletic Club, Road Transport Recreation Club, DBB Mills, L Motiram Club among a host of others but one particular team won the maximum silverware and caught the imagination of every one, the black and yellow shirted Hyderabad City Police fondly called the “City Afghans”, in accordance with the name of the police force during the reign of the Nizam of Hyderabad; which was renamed as Hyderabad City Police, post independence.

Hyderabad City Police began its success story in the pre-independence era and one particular game that established its reputation was the Ashe Gold Cup final of 1943 played in Bangalore in which they defeated The Royal Air force, a team that included England’s double international, the legendary Denis Compton (a league and FA Cup Winner with Arsenal), it was a game which the City team won after showing remarkable perseverance. Trailing by a solitary goal for much of the game they came back strongly to win the game with two late goals by their defender and skipper, Norbert Andrew Fruvall, to the jubilation of the home crowd. Their juggernaut kept rolling and they won most of the tournaments they participated in during the pre-independence era.

The 1950 Durand Cup final, held for the first time post independence, established the Hyderabad City Police as a legend in Indian Football. In that final game they played against the giants of the east – Mohan Bagan. They trailed two goals to nothing till the final ten minutes but came back heroically through a goal from Laiq to equalize in the dying seconds of the match. The mass hysteria that caused in the adoring fans watching the match is best summed up by veteran Indian football writer Novy Kapadia, who writes:

“Thousands of fans invaded the ground and mobbed and chaired Laiq. Some enthusiastic fans even kissed him and an over-exuberant one in his eagerness to congratulate his hero bit him on the cheek, Poor Laiq reached the dressing room with blood flowing down his face.

Unfortunate Laiq had to miss out the replay due to the wound which his team went on to win 1-0.”

From then on the team went on to achieve unprecedented success and can arguably be said to be the first truly successful Indian team in terms of number of silverware that they won post-independence as prior to that Indian Football was dominated by the British teams. Their domination of the national football during that period can be gauged by these statistics: They won the esteemed Rovers Cup five years in a row from 1950 to 1954, their State Championship for an unprecedented eleven consecutive years. In 1950, 1957 and 1959 they participated in 12 National tournaments remarkably winning them all.

Back in those days when teams were characterized by more men in offense than defense, the Hyderabad City Police played a very entertaining 2-3-5 formation, this effectively created an extremely flexible 2-3-3-2 formation, allowing the team to quickly switch between attack and defense.

The success of the team can be attributed to the great work done by the Hyderabad Football Association (formed in 1939) which was led by people who had genuine love of the game, Two people who contributed greatly to their success were their influential captain NA Fruvall during their initial years and later Syed Abdul Raheem regarded as the greatest Indian Football coach. In those years most of the Hyderabad clubs didn’t have a manager, Hyderabad City Police were no different. In the absence of a dedicated manager, Fruvall being the captain took the majority of the responsibility and began to shape the club in the 1940s. He was instrumental in signing some of the most influential players of his squad such as Noor Muhammad, Laiq and Susasih Jr. among others; by the time he retired in 1951 he had turned the team into one of the best in the country.

The great work done by Fruvall was continued and even bettered under the regime of Syed Abdul Rahim who was also the secretary of the state FA. He had represented Merry Go Round and Queens Club during the 1920s and 1930s, two of the best sides of their era.


A teacher by profession, Abdul Rahim was great tactician, (which was best showcased at the international level in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, where he coached the Indian national team to the gold medal), motivator and disciplinarian. Holding the post of the secretary of Hyderabad Football Association from 1943 till his death in 1963, he did a remarkable job of popularizing football in the state.

He organized several age group tournaments and introduced revolutionary ideas in Indian football – competitions which focused on specific skills of the young players that ensured a consistent flow of talented footballers in Hyderabad for the next three decades which greatly benefited the Hyderabad City Police team (and also the national team) and was one very crucial element for their sustained dominance.

The fact that the golden period of Indian football coincided with that of Hyderabad football says it all. A good number of Hyderabad players represented the national team during its golden period from the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s. When the Indian national team had finished fourth at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, five of Hyderabad City Police players – SK Azizuddin, Ahmad Hussain, Noor Muhammed, T. Balaram and Muhammad Zulfikaruddin were an integral part of the starting eleven. It’s a testimony to their quality.

Apart from their success, what set the Hyderabad City Police team apart was their humility on and off the pitch. It can be attributed to their manager Abdul Rahim, who more than a coach, was a father figure to his players. He laid great emphasis on not just the technical aspects of the game but also the player’s conduct and dedication. His players were an epitome of sportsmanship and never questioned a referee’s verdict even in the midst of a tense match. Playing with an exemplary manner compiled with their dominant performances yielded them immense popularity throughout the country and the team came to be identified as the team of the common man, in opposition to the elite clubs of Calcutta.

In the period just after independence, the team came to symbolize the spirit and ethos of the age, the will to sacrifice, overcome odds and work for great ideals. This contributed to their popularity transcending regional and religious boundaries.

After the death of Syed Abdul Rahim, who was at the time was secretary of Hyderabad FA someone equally capable, if not more was required at the helm to maintain his high standards but sadly it never happened and the Hyderabad City Police team couldn’t maintain its success story and slowly faded away. The team may no longer exist today but its remarkable success story will forever be held in high regards in Indian football.

Written by Wasi Manazir.


100 to Watch


Talent Radar1 hour ago

2017-18 Performance Rankings: Top 10 Young Defenders – Edition 1

Football News 24/7  Our Talent Radar Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe,...

Tactical Analysis2 hours ago

Tactical Analysis: Juventus 4-0 Torino | Home side too strong to play against

Ryan Tank writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Serie A match that ended Juventus 4-0 Torino. Torino suffered from...

Scout Report2 hours ago

Scout Report: Axel Tuanzebe | Manchester United’s defensive starlet

Ravi Inder Gill takes a look at Axel Tuanzebe, Man Utd’s young defender waiting in the shadows. In today’s game,...

Extra17 hours ago

Interview: Brandon Fernandes on experiencing football outside India, a longer ISL, and FC Goa’s upcoming campaign

Outside of the Boot gets the chance to sit down with FC Goa’s talented midfielder, Brandon Fernandes There’s been a lot...

Scout Report1 day ago

Scout Report: Ousmane Dembélé | Barcelona’s Versatile Winger

Miles Olusina breaks down the abilities of the canny Barcelona and France winger Ousmane Dembélé as he embarks on his...

Scout Report1 day ago

Scout Report: Steven Bergwijn | PSV Eindhoven’s rising star

Wang Yulin takes a look at PSV’s exciting Dutch attacker Steven Bergwijn When you think of the team ‘PSV Eindhoven’,...

Opinions2 days ago

Hanoi FC: The Vietnamese Champions struggling to connect with the locals

Trong Nhan Doan looks at the peculiar case of Hanoi FC Most of the time, the most successful team is...

Opinions2 days ago

Expected Goals: A Pioneering Method of Analysing Football

The Football Code has a look at expected goals, a new metric set to revolutionize statistics-based analysis of football Football...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid | Clash of two organised sides

Ryan Tank analyses the mid-week La Liga clash that ended Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid The clash of two organized...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich | Ancelotti’s men secure hard fought win

Ryan Tank analyses the mid-week Bundesliga match that ended Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich. Schalke: Fahrmann, Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic, Caliguri, McKennie...

Talent Radar5 days ago

2017-18 Performance Rankings: Top 5 Young Keepers – Edition 1

Our Talent Radar Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe, with those featuring in...

Opinions6 days ago

Déjà vu on Tyneside: Why Newcastle are being left short-changed by familiar failings

Jeffrey Gamby-Boulger looks critically at Newcastle’s repeated failings in recent years and why Mike Ashley is the root of those problems. ‘It’s the same...

Hipster Guide6 days ago

Hipster Guide 2017-18: UEFA Europa League | Part Two

Oliver McManus takes us on a journey through some of the more obscure parts of Europe as he tells us...

Series1 week ago

Tactical Philosophy: Leonardo Jardim

While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Talent Radar 2017-18 Young Players’ Team of the Week #4: Pietro Pellegri and Joshua Kimmich feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Tactical Analysis1 week ago

Tactical Analysis: Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Swansea City | Tottenham’s half space focus against Swansea’s compact block

Ryan Tank provides a tactical analysis of the Premier League game that finished Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Swansea City  Tottenham attacked...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Maxwel Cornet | Lyon’s latest starlet

Josh Sippie breaks down Maxwel Cornet, Lyon’s dynamic attacker. Olympique Lyon just have a knack for plucking supremely talented youth...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Marcos Llorente | Real Madrid’s young midfielder

Karan Tejwani provides the lowdown on Real Madrid’s talented midfielder, Marcos Llorente. Real Madrid have made smart purchases from Spanish...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Eddie Nketiah | Arsenal’s academy talent

Josh Sippie takes a look at highly-rated Arsenal academy striker Eddie Nketiah. Arsenal’s youth ranks are always going to be...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Douglas Luiz | Girona’s skilful midfielder

Anderson Moura analyses Girona’s (via Manchester City) talented Brazilian, Douglas Luiz. When Pep Guardiola accepted the Manchester City job, he...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 17-18

More on Outside of the Boot