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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Sports

Football: RIP Captain Marvel

The New Paper | Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Lee Kok Seng (right) as football captain for the Singapore soccer team at the Malaya Cup, in a photo taken with Umar Rahmat.

SINGAPORE - Lee Kok Seng, one of Singapore's best post-war centre halves and one who fellow footballers looked up to as the captain of all captains, died of pneumonia on Friday.

He was 81. He had been hospitalised for a month with medical complications.

He leaves behind two sons and one daughter.

In the 1950s and 60s, Lee, nicknamed "The Horse" for his power and stamina, skippered Singapore for 11 years and, before independence, also captained Malaysia at the 1954 and 1958 Asian Games.

In 1965, he led the Lions to Malaya Cup (now known as the Malaysia Cup) glory when they beat arch-rivals Selangor 3-1.

His brother Lee Kok Leong, 75, a former match official who received the prestigious Fifa Referee Special Award, said: "Kok Seng was a real hero in many sense of the word, as an outstanding police officer and footballer, inspiring me to do likewise."

Indeed, Kok Seng was not just a model footballer but also a respected senior police officer who retired as a deputy superintendent of police.

The tributes flew in thick and fast for the respected defender.

Former Singapore striker Quah Kim Lye, 72, said: "We played together for Singapore and the Singapore Chinese.

"Kok Seng was a very disciplined centre half and, with his police background, an excellent commander. When he told the team we couldn't lose, we wouldn't dare to disappoint him.

"In turn, if anything happened to us, he was always at the front fighting for us.

"I remember an away game in Malaysia when the home fans wanted to attack us, but he was at the front, getting ready to protect us and rally us for battle.

"It's very hard to find another captain like him these days."

Former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan called Kok Seng "a shining example of a gentleman footballer" and bemoaned "a great loss".

Former national skipper Samad Allapitchay added: "He had already retired by the time I was in the national team in the 70s, but Kok Seng was a real inspiration for me as a centre half.

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