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Friday, Aug 22, 2014

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S.League: Noh breathes fire, again

The New Paper | Friday, Aug 22, 2014

A former Singapore captain, the striker came back home to play for S.League champions Tampines Rovers in 2012 but struggled and went 16 games without a goal.

He left again to play in Indonesia, before coming back at the end of last year weighing in at a hefty 88kg.

At the age of 33, Noh Alam Shah was ready to retire and begin coaching.

But he signed on with Tampines again, worked his socks off to lose 10kg and, with fire rekindled, began contributing to the club's cause.

The Stags are on a title hunt again this season, and Noh has four goals in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, with another four in the cup competitions.

With just one point separating the Stags from league leaders Brunei DPMM FC, he is eager to help his team with a win over Tanjong Pagar United on Friday, as the season reaches a climax.

Noh loves nothing more than to prove doubters wrong.

By his own admission, if not for football, he could well be behind bars.

JAIL

Speaking to The New Paper recently, Noh said: "Since 1969, my father has been in and out of jail and, when I was young, I was very sure I would follow in his footsteps.

"But I have to thank coach K Balagumaran for signing me for the Woodlands Under-16 and then bringing me to the Sembawang Under-18s, where my football career took off.

"There were people who still whispered and gossiped about my father, so I was determined to make those around me proud."

Noh is the only Singaporean to win the S.League title three times.

His stint in the Indonesian Super League with Arema Malang also saw him collect a winner's medal.

He has scored in the Asian Champions League (with Arema) and picked up two international titles with the Lions in the 2004 and 2007 ASEAN Football Championship. He is the all-time leading goalscorer in the tournament with 17 goals.

Not bad for someone who dropped out of Bishan Park Secondary School in Sec 2.

Noh plays the game hard, he is a tough guy who takes no prisoners, and has gone over the top on occasion.

He says he doesn't have an explanation for his sometimes violent nature on the pitch, the worst of which led to a seven-month ban after he lashed out at international teammate Daniel Bennett when the Stags faced the Warriors in the RHB 2007 Singapore Cup final.

"Every time I step on to the field, I want to win so badly," he said.

WRONG PLACE

"As for Bennett, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Off the field, I was getting divorced for the second time and, on the field, I really wanted to win the final for 'Boss' (Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng).

"I worked my butt off and scored the first goal. We took the lead three times and conceded four soft goals. So, I snapped."

While he still has fire in his belly, Noh is in a much better place today. He has made peace with both his ex-wives. He pays maintenance punctually and is free to meet all five kids.

He said: "I have to thank 'Boss' and all the coaches - such as Bala, Jita Singh, Yow Tian Bey, Vorawan (Chitavanich) and Raddy (Avramovic) - who accepted me for who I am.

"I don't want my career to end on the subs' bench, which is why I came back to the S-League this year. I want to show that if I work hard, I can still match younger players, and I want to help 'Boss' win the S-League again."

I don't want my career to end on the subs' bench, which is why I came back to the S-League this year. I want to show that if I work hard, I can still match younger players, and I want to help 'Boss' (Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng) win the S-League again. -Noh Alam Shah

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 20, 2014.
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