Guwahati: In his almost two-decade-long career as a footballer, Durlov Gogoi aka Babatu — widely known among his friends, and especially among the sports fraternity — had become an epitome of leader and perfect team man. Like in football arena, he was always in the front in his professional career as a firefighter in Oil India Limited (OIL) too.
Probably that was the reason why he was among one of the first two casualties that the OIL suffered during its struggle to douse the fire at Baghjan oilfield in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Tuesday.
Terming him as one of the rare breed of footballers who, despite being a goalkeeper also scored goals for his team on numerous occasions, some of the former colleagues in Assam team also recalled how he, being a goalie, scored a crucial goal for the state team in his dying minutes in a national-level tournament to bring glories to Assam way back in 2007.
Recalling the happenings at the fire site on that fateful day, his former colleague and prominent goalkeeper who represented East Bengal and OIL, Jitu Chetry, said that they were the part of the voluntary team to control the fire on that day.
“During our basic training, both the deceased, Durlov and Tikheswar Gohain were assisting us,” he said. Babatu played with Chetry in state team for numerous occasions and represented OIL in the I-League 2nd Division till 2010.
Terming Durlov as a real gentleman, Chetry recalled how he was passing some difficult times due to the demise of his mother almost six months back: We had played for many years together, even got our jobs at almost the same time. It’s difficult to explain how big this loss is, he regretted.
Survived by his father, wife and a nine-year-old son, Durlov represented India in U-21, U-17 tournaments, played for Indian school team and represented Assam in coveted Santosh Trophy and other national-level tournaments.
Durlov was a goalkeeper of the OIL team during 2011 to 2016. He joined OIL in 2011 after representing the Assam U-19 team and Dibrugarh University. He was an inmate of the Golaghat Sports Authority of India (SAI) from 2001 to 2004.
Durlov, who hails from Namrup, started his career at the academy of internationally-acclaimed footballer Tashen Bora. Started his career as a mid-fielder, later he became a specialised goalkeeper.
Country’s one of the leading goalkeeper, Gumpe Rime, in his condolence said that they never played together as Durlov was much younger than him. “It’s really unfortunate that we have lost such a good player and a fantastic human being at this age. It’s a big loss, especially for Assam football and OIL,” he said.
Secretary of All Assam Football Players’ Association, Durga Boro, who also has represented Chruchill Brothers, Shillong Lajong etc., said that as soon as he got the news that Babatu was missing in a pond, he couldn’t even sleep the whole night as Boro knew that Babatu can’t swim.
“Since our SAI days we know each other as I represented SAI Guwahati Centre while he represented Golaghat. In OIL, we played together. I am speechless today,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Assam Football Association, Association of Assam Football Coaches, Assam Football Players’ Association along with the football fraternity have condoled the sudden and untimely demise of Babatu.
The dead bodies of Durlov Gogoi and Tikeswar Gohain, who went missing after a massive fire that broke out at Baghjan oilfield in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Tuesday afternoon, were recovered from the blowout well site on Wednesday.