June 07, 2010

The great footballers of the world

The hype is getting loud and everyone is talking about it. The whole world is waiting for the kick-off on 11th June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. YES, I am talking about the FIFA World Cup 2010 … a great event that only comes every four years.

Lately, to promote the coming World Cup football, our local TV channels have been showing some of our very own football greats. I am sure you have seen (Dato’) Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh and James Wong on TV lately. I hope there will be more to come. If not, I would like to mention here our other great footballers such as Mokthar Dahari, Arumugam aka Spiderman, Wong Choon Wah, M Chandran, Shukor Salleh, Yip Chee Keong and Chow Chee Keong. And there were others like Sergebeth Singh, Zainal Abidin, Dollah Salleh, Wong Hung Nung, Lim Teong Kim and of course many more.

If these names don’t ring a bell, then maybe you should ask your dad (or grandfather) about them. These great footballers of Malaysia made us proud, putting our country first and making Malaysia a country to be reckoned with, back in the glory football days of Merdeka Cup. Sorry to say, today’s football in Malaysia is not a bit close to what it used to be.

And talking about Merdeka Cup matches played in the historic Merdeka Stadium, do you remember those “kacang putih” (fried nuts and beans) sellers with their wooden table and trays of various “kacang putihs” packed in little cones made from old newspaper? You see them peddling their stuffs in various entrances and corners of Merdeka Stadium during matches. Let me step away from football and tell you a funny story related to the “kacang putih” sellers. You see, one time I went with my friend and his dad to watch a football match at Merdeka Stadium. During the match, my friend’s dad went to buy “kacang putih”. My friend and I waited for him but he did not return so we went to search for him. We found him standing beside a “kacang putih” stall looking really mad, cursing and swearing. We soon found out that he wanted to buy some “kacang putih” and had given the seller a fifty dollar note. But the “kacang putih” guy did not have any small change so he told my friend’s dad that he will go out to a shop to change it. But you know what? That guy did not come back. Why? My friend’s dad finally figured out that the whole stall … the table, trays and the “kacang putihs” (lock stock and barrel) cost a lot less than fifty bucks. So that guy just ran off making my friend’s dad looks like a big fool … no joke, this is a true story!

Do you remember who is who?

OK back to football and great footballers ... what about other great footballers from the around the world? One of the first few names I first came to know (back in the early 70s) was of course Pele and his famous “banana kick” or what is known today as “bend it like Beckham”. Do you remember Kim Jae-han, Cha Bum-keun, Maung Maung Tin, Johan Cryuff, Sepp Maier, Gerd Muller, (Masakuni) Yamamoto, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Osvaldo Ardiles, Mario Kempes and Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira or simply known as Socrates? Of course many will remember Diego Maradona and his controversial “hand of god” goal against England in 1986. What about Artur Antunes Coimbra? Maybe the name Zico sounds a little more familiar. Hey, remember Peter Shilton, Paolo Rossi, Gabriel Batistusta, Dino Zoff, Kevin Keegan and the famous top scoring goalkeeper from Paraguay, José Luis Chilavert? The list goes on.

Do you have any names to add? I am sure you will remember some of your favourite footballers from around the world. Even my 11 years old son is all excited and throwing names of famous current players like Ronaldo, Rooney, Drogba, Messi, Eto, Torres, Fabregas, Gerrard, Anelka, Lampard, Kaka, Malouda, Van Der Sar, Ballack, Arshavin and the list goes on. Maybe he will remember these names in the future.