Sundram recalls close friendship
The tributes flowed in for former Singapore international S Anthonysamy, who died yesterday.
The 51-year-old, who was paralysed from the neck down following a freak accident on the football field in 1996, passed away at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after falling seriously ill from a chest infection.
Among those mourning him was Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy, his former national teammate who also played alongside Anthonysamy (right) at clubs such as Safsa, Tampines, Sembawang and Woodlands.
While Sundram has been busy preparing the Lions for tonight's Causeway Challenge against arch rivals Malaysia at the National Stadium, he had visited Anthonysamy on Wednesday night and was there at SGH yesterday as well.
"We go a long way back and the one thing about him is that he's one of the nicest guys around," recounted an emotional Sundram.
"He was very down to earth and was always there to be counted on when you needed him.
"He was very jovial and lively among his friends and we're going to miss him.
"It's a very sad day for me because now I will remember him every year on my birthday," added the Lions coach, who turned 51 yesterday.
Explaining how their friendship blossomed during their playing days, Sundram said: "Especially when we were together during the Malaysia Cup days, we would travel and hang out together and he would often be at my place.
"Sometimes, he would even stay at my house and we would have meals together and even go out… These are the memories I have of him.
"When I heard the news after training (on Wednesday) and I knew he wasn't in a good condition, I had to come down to SGH to see him.
"At least having that couple of minutes with him is something I will cherish."
In a statement, the Football Association of Singapore said: "The Council, management and staff are deeply saddened. During his playing days, Anthony always played with boundless courage and tenacity and was a positive influence on the pitch. Off the field, Anthony demonstrated determination and optimism and had inspired many others around him.
"On behalf of the Singapore football fraternity, we extend our deepest condolences to Anthony's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."
Former Woodlands manager R Vengadasalam, who was also at the hospital when Anthonysamy died, remembered his former player both for his battling qualities and easygoing nature.
"He was a joyful person who was always singing songs and he was the livewire in the team," said Venga, who also recalled the fateful night that changed Anthonysamy's life.
"What happened 20 years ago was a tragedy and a very sad day.
"He was on the pitch for three minutes, had one shot which hit the bar and, the next minute, the injury happened.
"Yet, once he started to get better, there was an amazing light in him and he overcame his difficulties while always having a smile, with the help of his wife (Keralin Mary), who always stood by him and is a real angel.
"He was a real fighter too… Even the injury happened because he went in for a 50-50 ball.
"He was a battler on the pitch and that's how he was, even after the accident, and that's how I'll remember him."
- GABRIEL TAN