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Preserving The Legacy of Those Who Toiled For Singapore Football

People of my generation might have heard of him, but were too young to realize who he was when he was playing.

Let alone those millennials or Generation Z who might think "Mat Noh" is just a random name of someone around them.

It is something we cannot pinpoint at anyone if many young people these days have not heard the names of Mat Noh and his contemporaries who wowed this island republic in the 1970s.

1977 Singapore National Team is still revered by many till today

Simply because many former players have stayed out of the media limelight after they hung up their boots that it is no surprise, some might not realize who are they if they happened to stand in front or next to a former national player.

It is a sad thing that whenever former star players like Mat Noh passed away, we only get to read articles in the newspapers and discussions on social media reminiscing the achievements they had in their heydays, other than that they are, largely forgotten figures most of the time.

Mat Noh (arrowed) played for Toa Payoh United (Singapore Soccer)

Although things cannot be helped if they choose to stay low profile like how former Straits Times sports editor Godfrey Robert described Mat Noh, his former colleague at the broadsheet, as a man with few words in his tribute to the legend who was known for his dashing look and skills during his peak.

An effort to find out more about this media-shy protégé of the late "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee by this platform through a proxy proved to be a futile one when the request was politely declined.

Mat Noh (right) action for Toa Payoh United in 1984 (Singapore Monitor)

However, one 1975 interview with the then 21-year-old by a now-defunct publication did give us a sneak peek at some of the things he enjoyed and disliked.

In that October 1975 "Singapore Soccer" interview, it was mentioned both Geylang International and Tampines Rovers SC were trying to lure the star player from Toa Payoh United, the club that he stayed faithfully with before he faded away from the scene in the late-1980s which in between saw him went to Brazil for a short coaching course with Sayed Mubarak and Rahim Yati in 1984.

Mat Noh's interview with "Singapore Soccer" in 1975

The last known record I am able to find Mat Noh being featured as a player in the local newspapers was a Berita Harian report in 1987 when he came on as a substitute in Toa Payoh United's 2-1 win over Farrer Park United in a National Football League (NFL) Division One match.

Given the scarcity of footage of those players who are still revered by many of those who saw them in action, it is near impossible for the new generation to know how good they were as compared to the present ones who they idolize now.

A random check with those who know Mat Noh as a former footballer in a recent IG story survey by this platform stated they got to know him from those who saw him in action with some cited the movie "Kallang Roar The Movie" being the source they first came to know who he was.
(L-R)Hussein Aljunied, Choo Seng Quee, Andrew Yap and Majid Ariff - coaching panel of 1977 Singapore National Team
"Uncle" Choo Seng Quee (second from left)

Nevertheless, it came to my awareness that VIP Holding Lounge at the newly-renovated Jalan Besar Stadium was recently named as "Choo Seng Quee Lounge", as a tribute to the man who is considered by many as the greatest football coach Singapore ever had.

Such a move is an appropriate one with this tangible venue that would serve as a place to relate many tales of "Uncle Choo" that are often being shared and reminiscing among his former players.

Who knows in the near future and subject to prevailing circumstances, we might even consider having a gathering of these former national players with fans where such story sharing sessions would be held to allow more people to learn and appreciate those who brought joy and happiness to the terraces from the field they mesmerized their skills on during the good ol' days.


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