Olympian footballer Varadaraj passes away

The two-time Olympian, who was hospitalised for the past one month, breathed his last in the Shanbhag Hospital in Basaveshwarnagar at 7.30 am. The former goalkeeper, who leaves behind two sons and a daughter, died a natural death. He was 89.

His body will be cremated in the Harishchandra Ghat crematorium in Srirampura on Wednesday. The Karnataka State Football Association condoled his death. Varadaraj came into prominence while playing for the Mysore Football Club in the 1940s.

He went on to play for the Bangalore Blues Football Club before winning the Santosh Trophy with Mysore in 1946. Varadaraj represented Mysore State in the Santosh Trophy from 1945-1949. He was called up to represent the Indian team in the 1948 London Olympics, where India went out in the first round after a narrow 1-2 loss to France.

However, Varadaraj’s shining moment came in the 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi when India went all the way to win the gold. That team consisted two more members from Karnataka -- T Shanmugham and Ahmed Khan.

India scored identical 3-0 wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals against Indonesia and Afghanistan respectively. Varadaraj, who was a National-level referee for several years after his retirement , kept a clean sheet in the final as the hosts rode on Sahu Mewalal’s 34th minute strike to lift the title.

Varadaraj was also a part of the Indian squad for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. After representing Mysore FC and Bangalore Blues, he went on to play with Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. He ended his glittering career with HMT.

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