PETALING JAYA: Datuk M. Chandran’s (pic) tenacity and indomitable spirit in the heart of the Malaysian football team’s defence in the 70s was a distinctive attribute of his. But not many knew that the strict disciplinarian was truly a leader with a tender heart.
The former international footballer died at his house on Saturday at the age of 77.
The lanky defender played with several of the country’s greats and won numerous accolades with Selangor and Malaysia. The highlight of Chandran’s playing career was wearing the skipper’s armband for the national football team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The Sungai Siput-born player started his career with the Selangor Indian Association before he was spotted by then Selangor team manager Datuk Harun Idris when he was working at Chartered Bank.
Chandran, the mainstay in the centreback position, spearheaded Selangor’s numerous wins in many competitions including the prestigious Malaysia Cup.
Striker Shaharuddin Abdullah, who was one of the youngest player in the national team in the Munich squad, recalls the kindness shown by his captain.
“Chandran was a caring leader and will always look after our well being. I remembered him asking my brother Namat what type of food I like.
“During the national team training break, the other players from Selangor will go home and I would normally left alone at the FAM hostel. And Chandran, who knows about this fact, asked me to follow him to R. Arumugam’s (goalkeeper) house for a thosai and chapati meal. He noticed that I really enjoyed thosai and after that he would regularly buy it for me – a gesture I can still vividly recall today.
“I was supposed to visit him during the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s birthday on July 30 but I can’t make it and sadly I missed the opportunity to see him for the last time, ” said a sobbing Shaharuddin.
Former international Datuk M. Karathu, who played with and against Chandran, said his friend hated being beaten by strikers.
“We played together from 1963 to 1970. He was solid as a centreback, ” said the former Perak manager.
“He was well respected by Asian teams that participated in the Merdeka Tournament. We also shared a room while representing the country.
“He’s the best captain as he had great leadership qualities. May his soul rest in peace.”
Another former international Datuk Dell Akhbar Khan said the Selangor skipper was revered by teammates.
“I remember while representing Police in a friendly match against Selangor, my tackle left Chandran bleeding from an ankle injury and he subsequently left the match.
“And believe it or not, my brother Sardar (Khan Hyder Khan) replaced him and throughout the match my brother hassled me because I had hurt his friend and captain.
“That’s how much people respect and adore him.”