Kolkata: India's premier soccer club East Bengal conferred 'Bharat Gaurav' (Pride of India) award to Indian hockey stalwart Leslie Claudius for being a member of the three gold medal and one silver medal winning Indian Olympic hockey team.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, on behalf of the club, felicitated the 86-year-old Claudius with a scroll, a gold coin having East Bengal emblem and a purse of Rs two lakhs on the occasion of the club's 92nd anniversary.

Praising the efforts of East Bengal club and its supporters for achieving laurels in football, Banerjee hoped that Indian men and women would also take part in the soccer world cup in the days to come.

Playing as a centre half, Claudius represented the country in the Olympics during 1948 in London, 1952 at Helsinki, 1956 at Melbourne (all gold) and 1960 Rome (silver).

He was also the skipper of the Indian team in 1960. Thanking East Bengal club for bestowing such unique honour, the only of its kind by any sports club to any sports person in the country, Claudius said: "It's a great honour and I will cherish it throughout my life".

Soccer star of yesteryears Chandan Banerjee said that Claudius is the only person in the world who have earned three consecutive golds and then a silver in any team game in the history of Olympics.

"If the government decides to award Bharat Ratna to any sports person, Claudius should be considered first," he said.

The club also felicitated noted soccer players of East Bengal - right-winger Sukumar Samajpati (who played in the sixties) and defender Sudhir Karmakar - referees Dilip Sen and Pradip Nag besides veteran sports scribes Shyam Sundar Ghosh and Chittaranjan Biswas (Chiranjeev) for their contributions.

(Agencies)