Football fraternity mourns passing of Sundram’s dad
Varadaraju bought the first pair of boots for his son, who later went on to dazzle the opposition and fans on football pitches in Singapore, Malaysia and even Switzerland.
That boy is V Sundramoorthy, one of Singapore's top footballers who is now the national coach.
Varadaraju, 80, died in the early hours of yesterday morning, with many remembering the man as a giant of a footballer in his own right, one who helped the development of several players, including Sundram.
He was also described as a gentleman.
"We all called him by his nickname 'Gondol', and he was a wonderful man who used to work at the Sembawang Shipyard.
"He was always very friendly whenever my family and I would bump into him at the Marsiling coffeeshop near his home," recalled Mohana Dass, the father of current Lions defender Madhu, in reference to Varadaraju's bald head in his teens.
"I was very sad when I heard of his death, and I took the rest of the day off to come and be with his family (at the wake)."
But Gondol was a different man on the pitch, with some likening him to ex-Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane.
"He was an extremely dedicated player. Once he crossed that line and stepped onto the field, he was committed, and he demanded the same from everybody.
"It didn't matter whether it was a friendly or competitive game, he would never play the fool, or just kick around like some of us would," said former Singapore defender Bernard Norbert.
Norbert was one of several young fooballers honing their skills at local club Junior Athletic Association (JAA) that played in the top tier of the Football Association of Singapore league.
"We were the younger boys coming through and we really learnt the trade from him. It was a completely different football environment then - you either got tough and survived, or you get kicked, and kicked out. And he was a real hard man."
Norbert recalled football luminaries such as Syed Mutalib, M Kumar and the Quah brothers - Kim Lye, Kim Siak and Kim Swee - playing alongside Varadaraju at the old Deptford Ground.
He was shown the ropes by Varadaraju, and Norbert later paid it forward by guiding a 13-year-old Sundram as coach of the JAA junior team.
Sundram, now 52, remembers the platform that his father provided for him to shine on football pitches, where he continues to live his professional life.
In an earlier interview with iremember.sg, Sundram struggled to recall the brand of the boots that propelled him to as far as FC Basel in Switzerland, but the gesture was never forgotten.
"That was my first pair of boots and my father got them for me.
"He was really supportive of me playing football and he bought me whatever I need," he said, also reminiscing about the lesson on dedication and commitment that came along with the gift from a father whose life was an example of those values.
"Back in those days, when your boot was torn or damaged, you couldn't just head to the shop and buy another pair," said Sundram. "I had to really take good care of them."
Varadaraju leaves behind his wife, three daughters and Sundram.
The wake is held at Block 136, Marsiling Road with the funeral scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) evening.