Datuk K. Rajagopal, or also known as Rajagopal Krishnasamy, a former national footballer is a name and force to be reckoned with in the sports arena. Having been instrumental in bringing the national team internationally and influencing many young talents, Rajagopal has certainly without a doubt earned the title ‘icon’.
He is the longtime head coach of Malaysia’s national football team and the under-23 football team.
Rajagopal born on born 10 July 1956, didn’t shine much when he began his football career as a player for the Selangor football team. However, over the years he honed his skills as a football player and never failed to amaze die hard football fans with his amazing shots. He then took his profession to the next level by becoming head coach for the Malaysian national football team and under-23 football team. Rajagopal’s name was suddenly recorded on national football history in a row in the year, 2009 and 2010.
Born in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Rajagopal Gifted with a magical touch helped the under-23 squad win Its First gold medal in 20 years At The 2009 Sea Games in Laos after beating Vietnam 1-0.
He was appointed as coach of the young Malaysian U-20 squad from 2004 to 2006, and Malaysia under-19, branded as Harimau Muda A from 2007 to 2009. Through his leadership, Harimau Muda A became champion of the Malaysian Premier League in 2009. Since July 2009, he has helmed the title coach for both Harimau Muda and Malaysia’s senior football team, taking over B. Sathianathan.
His first Win as Coach were a 3-0 victory against Singapore and a 5-0 victory against Zimbabwe.
In his 20 years of coaching experience, Rajagopal has been a well known guide and mentor to Malaysia’s under 23 sides in claiming their first gold medal at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games in Laos, where the team beat Thailand 1-0 on a group stage during the finals on 17th December. Rajagopal is also renowned for his team’s eight-time champion wins.
Rajagopal received the title King Gopal after the victory.
In 2 games against English Premier League champs, Manchester United in 2009, Rajagopal coached the Malaysian team, however, the local team lost to the Red Devils in both matches at 0–1 and 2–3.
Malaysia has won the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010, the first time since its establishment in 1996.
With his victory, he has been praised for his strategy to shift the game’s tactical method from a defensive to an offensive game style. The talented squad has shown strong football quality, a good defence system, and a therapeutic finishing on the road to winning the award.
By the end of 2013, his deal as coach was not extended. Despite a variety of reports naming him as Vietnam’s National Football head manager, the report was all but just a mere rumour.
On 4th June 2011, Rajagopal was given the Panglima Jasa Negara (PJN), which carries the title Dato’, following the anniversary of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Of that year.
He was among the 67 recipients of the award from His Majesty Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin during the ceremony held at the Istana Negara.
During a press conference in September 2015, Rajagopal was named as head coach of the Sarawak FA, starting in December 2015. His contract ended the next year on 7 May 2016, after a weak performance by the side, ending at the bottom of the league.
Rajagopal was named as PKNS F.C’s current head coach on the 22nd of November, 2017.
Datuk Rajagopal, your dedication and passion to bring our national football team to where it is today, is something that we, Malaysians are truly grateful for.