KV Varadaraj, one of the few Indian footballers who played in two Olympics in 1948 and 1952, passed away in Bangalore on 20 December 2011. Varadaraj was nicknamed 6-footer by the English.
Born on 7 May 1924, Varadaraj came up quickly through the ranks representing Challenge Union Mysore, Mysore Railways and Bangalore Blues.
Varadaraj was the goalkeeper of the Indian team led by Mohun Bagan defender Talimeren Ao that took the field in the 1948 London Games. Despite Varadaraj also known as Mysore Wall guarding the goal, India lost to France 1-2 in the first round.
KV Varadaraj was also part of the Indian squad led by Sailendra Nath Manna at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. India went in to the first round match with Berland Anthony at the goal and got thrashed 10-1 by Yugoslavia.
Varadaraj won the gold medal at the 1951 inaugural Asian Games in New Delhi as he helped India keep a clean slate in all the matches, beating Iran 1-0 in the final.
His superb skills under the bar won him a place in the Mohun Bagan. He was a specialist in tie-breakers.
For a long time he was a permanent fixture in the Mysore state team. Later he also worked a coach for the HMT.
Varadaraj was one among the several Olympians to have emerged from Karnataka, then known as Mysore. Among his illustrious contemporaries were T Shanmugam, BN Vajravelu, Ahmed Khan, SA Basheer and S Raman.