The 1980s was the golden era of club football in Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka. Any match involving Mohammedan or Abahani would draw a huge crowd at the Dhaka stadium. The rivalry between the two arch-rivals was at its peak in this era and would sometimes go out of hand during match days.
It would be a bit difficult to believe that a player won six consecutive league titles for these two arch-rivals during their peak rivalry, but Samrat Hossain Emily made it possible. The legendary footballer won these six consecutive titles, three each for Abahani and Mohammedan, from 1983 to 1988/89 season.
A product of the Dacca Pioneer league, Emily began his career as a striker but later moved to the role of an attacking midfielder in the second half of the decade.
Emily got his big break while playing for Wari AC in 1982. He also played U18 football for Naraynganj that year.
"I first saw him when we both were in U18 camp in 1982. He played for Narayanganj while I was playing for Dhaka. He showed great potential in that camp," Kaiser Hamid, a former footballer who was also in that U18 camp that year, later joined him in Mohammedan told The Business Standard (TBS)
"His passing and dribbling were superb. His finishing was up to the mark as well. All in all, he was a complete player," Hamid added.
Emily was impressive throughout the 1982 season, especially in the Super League. Wari finished fourth in the league that season, their best finish of the decade, thanks to Emily's goal against Abahani in the final match of the season.
At the beginning of the next season, both the giants Mohammedan and Abahani engaged in a tug of war for his services. In the end, he joined the Sky Blues side from Dhanmondi where he won the first three consecutive league titles.
In his debut match for Abahani, he scored a superb headed goal against Calcutta MSC.
Initially, there were some concerns about his success at Abahani, as the Sky Blues already had legendary Kazi Salahuddin as their premier striker. However, Emily proved a great success in his debut season combining superbly with both Salahuddin and left-winger Ashraf Uddin Chunnu.
He had a tremendous first season for the Sky Blues. But his contribution in the last two seasons suffered due to successive injuries.
In September 1985, he suffered a career-threatening injury while playing against the Pakistan Air Force team in the AFC qualifying round at Colombo, Sri Lanka. After this incident, Abahani decided to release him.
He could have stopped there. But he recovered from that injury and signed for Abahani's arch-rivals Mohammedan in 1986 and won three successive titles for them as well.
The first season was difficult for him but he played an important part in winning the league.
"That injury was definitely a huge setback for him. But he did recover from that and played an essential part in winning the league next season for Mohammedan," Hamid, then his Mohammedan teammate said.
Emily played as an attacking midfielder for the Black and Whites. Mohammedan was unstoppable at that time.
While him winning six consecutive titles with Abahani and Mohammedan remains a legendary feat in Bangladesh's football, Kaiser Hamid opines his luck might have favoured him a bit as well as he got some superstars beside him in both the clubs at that time.
"It was a tremendous feat no doubt. But as football is a team game, his luck probably favoured in this case."
But the injury wasn't gone for so long. It kept coming back and troubled him every now and then. Emily had to cut short his footballing career as he announced retirement after the 1991-92 season.
"Probably he could have done a lot better had the injury not troubled him," Kaiser concluded.