S. Subramaniam – my beacon in good and dark times

Just as Malaysians celebrated Merdeka on Tuesday, the nation lost S. Subramaniam – a former football coach, technical director, and a true gentleman.

Subramanian had inspired me to leave my home state, Johor, to help fulfil the ambition and dream of a then-fledgling Federal Territories Football Association (FTFA).

With the trust of then Mayor, Tan Sri Elyas Omar, FTFA was renamed Kuala Lumpur FA.

Subramaniam convinced a world class coach, Dr Josef Venglos to move to Malaysia to impart his expertise, from which his blueprint of football set the City Boys on their course to dominating the domestic scene throughout the latter half of the 80s.

Subramaniam went on a recruitment drive, scouring the length and breadth of Malaysia, to bring in characters to play major roles on the pitch, alongside his handpicked players. He created a squad that would later sweep everything there was to win in Malaysian football.

But most importantly, Subramaniam stood by me and stood for me in my darkest hour.

Recruiting me would lead us into trouble, as my transfer from Johor to Kuala Lumpur resulted in a one-year conditional ban from August 1983-August 1984, a curious decision which prevented me from turning out for KLFA but still enabled me to play for the national team.

The period from January 1984 till the end of my ban in August was nothing but darkness, if not for my beacon, Subramaniam.

I didn’t want to go to the training ground, I didn’t want to watch KLFA play. I felt disconnected, frustrated, and angry.

Subramaniam, or Mr Subra as I addressed him, never said a word. He just stood by me.

He was the one man, more than most, who had masterminded the golden era of KLFA and directly impacted Malaysian football.

Rest in peace, sir. A selfless legend.

Main image: Subramaniam (seated, second from left) and Serbegeth (middle row, far right) with the Kuala Lumpur FA team in the 80s. – Picture courtesy of Serbegeth Singh.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.