Goodbye, Friend

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Members of the football fraternity yesterday paid their last respects to ex-national coach Hussain Aljunied.

Hussain, who was the national coach from 1984 to 1986, succumbed to pneumonia shortly before 3pm on Saturday at the Singapore General Hospital.

He led the Lions to the Malaysia League title in 1985 and also to the SEA Games final – losing 2-0 to hosts Thailand – that same year. A funeral prayer was held at the Sultan Mosque on Arab Street yesterday morning, before the body was laid to rest at the Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery.

Quah Kim Song, Roy Krishnan, Kadir Yahaya and Samad Allapitchay were among those present.

Former national captain Samad, 65, had a close connection with Hussain, whom he first met when he enlisted in the army for National Service aged 18. He also later married Hussain’s niece.

“The late Hussain was a regular in the army then, an RSM (regimental sergeant major),” he said.

“Shortly after I enlisted, I played in the national team alongside him.

“Later, he became my coach.”

Samad’s son, Geylang International defender Shariff, was one of those who helped carry Hussain’s casket.

“In training, Hussain made no compromise – perform, or you were out of the team,” said Samad.

BROTHERS

“But, away from the pitch, he treated us all as if we were his brothers. Everybody loved him.

“When you sat down with him, you’d laugh so much, you didn’t want to go home.”

Ex-footballers weren’t the only ones who turned up at the mosque.

Former national boxer Syed Abdul Kadir, the 1974 Sportsman of the Year, also paid his respects.

Kadir first met Hussain as a fellow sportsman, and the pair later grew close when his cousin’s sister married Hussain’s nephew.

The 68-year-old said: “He was a real gentleman, on and off the pitch.

“He was always friendly to whoever he met.”

One who wished he could be there but was away on duty was football icon Fandi Ahmad.

The 53-year-old, a staff coach with the Football Association of Singapore, was in Kuala Lumpur to watch current star Safuwan Baharudin in action for Malaysian club PDRM FA over the weekend.

Fandi told The New Paper: “(Hussain) was a strict but fun coach, and he was always lively.

MEMORIES

“We had many good memories, especially when he led us to the 1985 SEA Games final.

“He was a fatherly figure to us players.

“I met him about a few weeks ago at an S.League game, and a couple of weeks later heard he was ill.

“But I didn’t know it was so serious.

“Looking back, I’m overwhelmed and deeply moved to have had a chance to play under one of Singapore’s great players of the ’70s.”

Hussain is survived by his wife, Zahrah Sulaiman, a son, three daughters and 10 grandchildren, aged between nine and 27.

His son Ahmad Aljunied said: “My father was a fun-loving man who loved his grandchildren, and was friends with the whole world.”


This article was first published on March 7, 2016.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016 – 02:00
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