R. RAMAKRISHNAN can never forget the moment. There were tears in his eyes as he celebrated Malaysia's win overHolland.
There were Malaysian flags all over and in their moment of glorythey thought the flags reached up to the heavens.
That 2-1 win carved a place for Malaysia in the semifinals of the 1975 World Cup. The scenes at the Kilat ground were unbelieveable. The key to the success was the fact that the team believed in themselves and were never under pressure to perform.
"There were no specific targets. Mind you we finished second last in the`73 World Cup.
"But we set out to defeat the teams that we knew we could beat. From the onset we knew we had to win the matches against teams who were on par with us and against the more fancied ones we gave our best," said Rama.
The striking aspects of Rama's game were his ability to produce defence-splitting passes and this helped the national cause. Though he had the distinction of playing in three World Cups, the 1975 edition the jewel in the crown of his career.
"The team of `75 were very special," he recalled. "We had depth in the squad and this played a major role in our success."
The understanding among Rama, Poon Fook Loke and Franco de Cruz who combined in the middle, was especially good.
"It was not done overnight. We spent long hours after practice to chalk out strategies." Rama, a feared right-inside during his hey days, played his part in the tournament by creating match-winning opportunities for his teammates.
But what has this fine player of yore got back from the country he so dearly loves? Nothing. Not even an award.
"We do not know how to recognise champions. And probably we deserve the tainted cash-rich stars who have taken Malaysian sports to its very nadir of late."
There was very little in terms of financial gains but then Rama comes from an era where money was very much secondary to the game.
The young players of those years respected him and on occasions sought his advice. It was a rather unique bond. During weekends, Rama spends time with young boys in Teluk Intan,teaching them the finer points of the game.
For it was here that Rama himself learnt the game. Rama carried on for a couple of more years before leaving the scene in 1981, disillusioned by the state of affairs in Malaysian hockey.
But not before he made one last major contribution by helping the team qualify forthe 1982 Bombay World Cup.
NAME: R. Ramakrishnan
PLACE OF BIRTH: Teluk Intan, Perak.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Kusala Kumari.
CHILDREN: Daughter: Ganeshree Devi (16)Son: Shri Ganesh (14)
PROFESSION: Director-Operations with Kris International Traveltours(Malaysia) Sdn Bhd also Legal Executive for Sri Indra Jaya Holdings SdnBhd
WORLD CUPS: 1973 (Amsterdam),1975 (Kuala Lumpur),1978 (Buenos Aires)
OLYMPICS: 1976 (Montreal)
ASIAN GAMES: 1974 (Tehran),1978 (Bangkok)
INTER CONTINENTAL CUP: 1981 (Kuala Lumpur)
INTERNATIONAL CAREER: 1970-1981
OTHER ACHEIVEMENTS: Asian All Stars (1974)