Coach Subra, the man behind rise of KL football, passes away

Coach Subra, the man behind rise of KL football, passes away

Coach Subra, the man behind rise of KL football, passes away

PETALING JAYA: Sometime in August 1983, Serbegeth “Shebby” Singh arrived at his home in Kluang, Johor where his parents informed him that two men had come looking for him earlier, leaving only a phone number.

So Shebby, then a defender with the Johor football team, rang the number only to be greeted with a stern voice on the other end.

“He introduced himself as S Subramaniam, the Kuala Lumpur coach and said: ‘Take the 10am train from Kluang to Kajang tomorrow. I will be there to pick you up’. That was it,” said Shebby.

The next day, Shebby met Subramaniam whose demeanour betrayed the stern voice he heard on the phone.

“That was the day I met the nicest person ever. He became my ‘football father’. He was gentle and knowledgeable,” said Shebby who signed for Subramaniam’s Kuala Lumpur FA (KLFA) in a highly controversial move back then.

Today, Subramaniam, 85, the man widely credited for laying the foundations of the most successful Kuala Lumpur football team passed away.

Subramaniam or “Coach Subra” as he was fondly called by his players, was a KL City Hall employee (DBKL) and served as the KLFA head coach for a couple of years before being appointed the team’s technical director.

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The former teacher was also instrumental in bringing in Josef Venglos as head coach. The Czech, who went on to manage his national team at the World Cup Finals besides clubs like Aston Villa and Celtic, guided KLFA to the league title in 1986 and the Malaysia Cup the following year.

When Venglos left, his replacement Chow Kwai Lam led the team to three consecutive Malaysia Cup trophies and one league title.

But the seeds of the championship-winning team had been planted earlier by Subramaniam, who in his later years also worked for the Football Association of Malaysia and the Asian Football Confederation.

“Younger Malaysians will never know about a humble and gentle football innovator. He earned the trust of the then KL mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar and brought the world-class Josef Venglos to coach the right group of players from all over Malaysia and they worked well with his crop of handpicked KL boys to write Malaysian history,” said Shebby.

Tang Siew Seng, a defender who also played under Subramaniam in the 1980s described “Coach Subra” as a fatherly figure.

“He was very approachable, we could joke and talk with himand  He didn’t shout or scold us.”

He said Subramaniam should be remembered as the man who laid the groundwork for KL football’s renaissance in the 1980s.

“I wish younger Malaysians knew about Subramaniam’s passion for football from developing talent and building the most successful KL football team to date.”

Coach Subra, the man behind rise of KL football, passes away

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