SINGAPORE - Bangkok-based former S-League footballer Sivaneswaran Ramalingam, 29, was found dead in the Thai capital at the weekend and his family is trying to figure out what happened.
His father, Mr Ramasamy Ramalingam, 60, a private bus driver, said he received a call from Bangkok in the wee hours last Saturday (May 28) to inform him that his son had died. He flew to Bangkok on the first flight available.
Mr Siva had died by manual strangulation, according to his death certificate, seen by The Straits Times.
Once a player for Sengkang Punggol, now Hougang United, Mr Siva had been based in Thailand for about 15 years, first as a professional soccer player, then as a sales manager at a nail and spa salon.
His body was flown back to Singapore on Sunday, and a wake held the next day.
At his Bishan flat yesterday, Mr Ramasamy told The Straits Times that Thai police had showed him a re-enactment video of what they had seen when they went to Mr Siva's condo. "There was a man holding his legs, and another man holding Siva in a chokehold," he said.
His son's boss Kevin Maes, a Belgian, was arrested for allegedly causing grievous hurt and is out on bail. Another man was also arrested. Investigations are ongoing, Mr Ramasamy said.
For Mr Ramasamy, what was shocking was that the woman whom he had known to be his son's girlfriend of five years turned out to be still married to Mr Maes. Ms Sarah Gieghase was the one who had called him to tell him "Siva is gone", said Mr Ramasamy, who has three other sons.
Mr Siva, who spoke fluent Thai, and Ms Gieghase, a Belgian, have a 31/2-old-son. Friends and family said the couple had a stormy relationship and had spats over their son and business issues.
Mr Ramasamy had encouraged his son to drop his football dream, as there did not seem to be a future in it. He asked him to put his persuasive skills to use, by going into sales. "He had a bright future. He was capable. He could convince anyone," he said wistfully.
Mr Maes and Mr Siva had a professional working relationship, said the latter's childhood friend, Mr Isaac Chew. "They played in a football team and went to the gym together," said the 29-year-old development manager.