Cristiano Junior: The brightest football star that fell untimely

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A Brazilian footballer who played as a forward for Dempo and East Bengal before an on-field collision in the Federation Cup finals, with the goalkeeper of his opposing team led to his death. Cristiano Junior, today is his 13th death anniversary.

Career :

Júnior, who was the highest paid footballer in India, signed up for Dempo in September 2004. He had only recently moved to Dempo on a transfer from Kolkata’s East Bengal where he had formed an elite strike partnership with India’s ace footballer Baichung Bhutia in helping his team to the league title in the 2003-2004 season.

Dempo announced that they would retire Junior’s #10 shirt. It filed a complaint of criminal negligence against Subrata Pal, Hosmat Hospital, and the Karnataka State Football Association, the local organizers. Pal was suspended for 2 months.

Death :

Júnior collided with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Paul, in the 78th minute of the Federation Cup finals. While scoring his second goal after chasing the ball into the box, he collided with the keeper, staggered away and then collapsed. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. The game continued after Junior was taken off the field. He was dead on arrival at Hosmat Hospital, hospital officials said that no doctors were requested to be at the ground during the Federation Cup match, “At no time, was the hospital requested to provide doctors, and no agreement or contract for doctors was made.” Dempo won the Cup 2-0. According to the autopsy performed in the Bangalore Hospital (where Junior was moved from the stadium), the footballer died because of a heart stroke. The report also added that Júnior was not injured at the moment of the arrival to the health center.

Personal Life :
He was married with Juliana Pereira.
He is also remembered as a real family man as stated by his coach Mr. Subhas Bhowmick. He and his wife loved animals and thus was a frequent visitor of Alipore Zoo. This was quite surprising for all his fellow players but that hardly affected Junior’s life.

Junior was one of the football crazy Brazilians who migrated to India with a dream to conquer the fields. While playing for the America Futebol Clube in Brazil, he was approached by Douglas with an offer to play for East Bengal. Junior didn’t take long to accept his proposal and fly to Kolkata in order to unveil his vision. When he arrived, East Bengal was going through a very tough time. In their previous three National Football League games, they had lost one and drawn the remaining two but Junior’s arrival changed the scenario. Scoring 15 goals in only 18 games and scoring for a record seven games in a row after his debut, helped East Bengal recover easily. His partnership with Bhutia will be remembered in history of Indian football for long. Rest in peace Junior !