KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Peter Velappan died on Saturday at the age of 83.
Malaysia's state news agency Bernama reported that Velappan passed away on Saturday morning.
In a statement on the AFC website, its president Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa paid tribute to the veteran football administrator.
"On behalf of the entire Asian football family, I send my condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the family of one of the most important architects of growing the game in Asia," he said.
"Peter served Asian football with passion and professionalism and the news of his passing will shock and sadden all those who are involved in our great game on this continent. He deserves immense credit for everything that he achieved with the AFC and beyond."
Current AFC general secretary Windsor John, added that Velappan had been an inspiring figure both with AFC and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
"Peter set the standards to which everyone in Asian football aspires. He was dedicated to grassroots football and the development of the game in Asia. It has been an honor to follow in his footsteps," he said.
Born in Malaysia in 1935, Velappan studied in Britain and Canada before becoming a teacher and later became assistant general secretary of FAM from 1963 to 1980.
He was also appointed as team manager and coach to the Malaysian football team which qualified for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
In 1978, Velappan became the AFC General Secretary during a time of its rapid expansion and development for the organization and for football in Asia, which hosted its first FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea in 2002 during his time in office.
He was coordination director for the Organizing Committee and received FIFA's distinguished service award for his 30 years of valuable contribution to the sport in 2002.
As the longest serving general secretary in AFC history, he served under three AFC presidents namely Hamzah Abu Samah (1978 to 1994) and Sultan Ahmad Shah (1994 to 2002) both from Malaysia and Qatar national Mohamad Hamman (2002 to 2011).
Velappan retired in 2007, after 29 years as general secretary, but remained a strong advocate for grassroots football and a firm supporter of present AFC president Shaikh Salman.
His commitment to grassroots football led to a role at Vision Asia which was devoted to popularising the sport at grassroots across Asia.