Indian leads Malaysia to football glory

Sunday, January 16, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR - Indian origin coach K. Rajagopal, who led Malaysia to football to glory in the recent AFF Suzuki Cup, may be soft-spoken, but his success proves that he is made of sterner stuff.

WHEN people talk about the glory days of Malaysian football, names such as Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh and Datuk Soh Chin Aun crop up without fail. Now, Rajagopal could now be immortalised in the same breath, not as a player but as the person who pumped new life into Malaysian football following the team’s success in the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup.

According to The Star, calls have been made for Rajagopal to be awarded a Datukship, and some Liverpool fans, obviously keen to be on the winning side again, have suggested that he take charge of the under-performing English Premier League club.

Malaysia’s very own “Special One” is taking all the new found attention in his stride.

“It makes you proud that people are saying things like this, but at the same time, I don’t want to be carried away. There is a lot of work to be done. We need time,” he says in an interview at his Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) office in Kelana Jaya recently.

“It is very difficult to satisfy humans. People want too many things too fast without knowing the background and reality. They want a Kancil to beat a Ferrari. We are trying to improve the Kancil so it can maybe compete with the Honda or Toyota,” says the father of two boys aged 23 and 25.

Some might consider comments like this to be arrogant, but those close to him say he might be misunderstood. They point out that he is being single-minded in his pursuit of success for the country.

National team manager Subahan Kamal says Rajagopal can be flamboyant but at the same time is modest and down to earth.

“He is sincere and humble. There are no airs about him despite his success. He appreciates everyone and doesn’t like to swallow success for himself,” he says, adding that Rajagopal obliged Indonesian fans by taking pictures with them.

Subahan also says that Rajagopal has a sense of humour, although he is all business on the field. (ANI)

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