Saturday, April 26, 2014

Master of deception shone among the stars

Nicknamed “King of Kangkang” (nutmeg), for his uncanny ability to outwit opponents, he was better known as Mydin than Ibrahim.
Ibrahim started playing at a very young age as a Standard Two pupil he was already playing for his school team – Datuk Keramat Malay School  – where he started off as a fullback.
Coming from a poor family, his football skills saw him playing with clubs like Ramblers before making the Penang team in 1962 till 1965 before moving to Selangor where his midfield skills and goal scoring goals in crucial match winning goals was his hallmark.
With Selangor he won the Malaysia Cup thrice – 1968 (beat his former state Penang 8-1 where S. Thanbalan scored four goals), 1969 (beat Penang 1-0) and 1971 (replayed final against Perak winning 3-1 after the first match ended 1-1).
Ibrahim was recommended to the police force by none other Tan Sri P. Alagendra who was in the Police and was responsible for recruiting many sportsmen and women.
“It was K. K. Pillai, the father-in-law of late Punch Gunalan, who interviewed me and I was enlisted as a probationary inspector,” recalled Ibrahim who turns 70 on August 2.
“I was indeed lucky to have landed the job and it was because of football,” said Mydin who was regular in the Merdeka tournament from 1962 to 1971.
“In the 60s, there were simply so many talented players and I am glad that I had the opportunity to play among the best. We also had good coaches in Choo Seng Quee, Peter Velappan, E.C. Dutton, N. Raju and Harold Hassall to name a few,” said Ibrahim during the interview at his home in Alor Setar with his wife Masitah Jamaluddin listening attentively. Ibrahim has three grown up daughters.
Among the players that Ibrahim played include Stanley Gabriel, Robert and Richrd Choe, Ghani Minhat, Dutton, S. Lourdes, Yee Seng Choy, Foo Fook Chuan, Kamaruddin Ahmad, W. Skinner, Majid Ariff, Ali Satar, Hoh Yuen Meng, Quah Kim See, Abdullah Nordin, Lee Kok Seng, M. Karathu, Mahat Ambu, Agus Salim, N. Thanabalan and Ho Voon Hung.
In the later part of the 60s Ibrahim had for company the likes M. Chandran, Chow Chee Keong, Soo-Toh-Kim-Poh, Dali Omar, Chow Kwai Lam, Zulikilfi Norbit, Shahruddin Abdullah, Sardar Khan, Namat Abdullah and Wong Choon Wah.
Ibrahim had his brushes with officialdom where he known for being vocal about his feelings about players’ selection.
“To me, what mattered was that the best must take the field. But sometimes it was not the case and I made my feelings known. While most of the time, my views were received well, there were times I was victimised,” said Ibrahim who bears no grudges against the officials or coaches.
“It did not matter to me if I was left out, but when I see my teammates who deserve a chance to play left out, I made my views heard.
“There were times when I was left out from the squad and even for tournaments. It was one of the reason, why I left the national team early. I could have played a few years.
“But it did not matter because I had a job and I was happy with that.
“There were also times I missed national call-ups because of my job. For instance during the May 13 in 1969, I was posted to Campbell station (Dang Wangi) now and missed training.
“Since I was missing for training, someone spread a rumour that I was killed. It was only after they checked with the Police Force, that they were told that I was very a much alive and in duty in Campbell,” laughed Ibrahim.
But Ibrahim said he choose to quit the national team early.
“I could have continued to play longer when German coach Dettmar Crammer who was asked to coach the Malaysian team which played a friendly against Brazil’s Cruzerio FC, had requested me to make a comeback in 1971.
“Peter (Velappan) who was then assistant secretary of FA of Selangor got in touch with me and asked to meet Dettmar who was training the national team at University Malaya. I made my way to see him and he requested to make a comeback. But I declined.
“Probably if I had made a comeback, I would have had a chance to make the 1972 Munich Olympics. But I have no regrets. Yes, I am disappointed that I missed the chance to play in the first ever Olympics Malaysia qualified for, but it was a choice. I made.”
“ I had a good run while it lasted playing in three Sea Games (1965, 1967 and 1969) and three Asian Games (1962 –bronze medal), 1966 and 1970, Merdeka tournaments from 1962 till I retired and regional tournaments like the Jakarta Anniversary Cup, Thailand’s King’s Cup, Korea’s President’s Cup.”
Asked about one incident he remembers well till now, he said: “Sadly, it is remembered not for good reasons because I lost a teammate Ng Peng Huat in the third Asian Youth Cup he competed in 1964 in Saigon where I captained the team.
“Coach Peter (Velappan) had given the players a day off and told us to go swimming for relaxation. Peng Huat (also teammate with Selangor) hurt his head when diving and died.
“It was really sad, but we continued to compete in the tournament and in the third placing match beat mighty Koreans 4-1. The Koreans did not want to accept the defeat and said that Peng Huat had helped us win the match.”

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