Exclusive Interview


by Suresh Kumar and Shanmuganathan
Compiled by Thomas Teh
The Seladang, 1982

Mokhtar Dahari (1953 - 1991) was a legendary Malaysian national football team player from Selangor. Born in Setapak on 13 November 1953, he became one of the best players in Asia in the 1970s. He was Malaysia's best striker. Mokhtar showed interest in playing football at an early age. He played for his school and later for his home state, Selangor FA. He was only nineteen years old when he first played for the Malaysia national football team in an international game. Mokhtar helped Selangor FA win the Malaysia Cup 10 times and scored 177 goals altogether. In international games, he scored a total of 125 goals in 167 caps for the Malaysian team.

The Merdeka Stadium was his second home amidst roars of "Supermokh" from the young generation who worshipped him. Along with goalkeeper R Arumugam, defenders Santokh Singh and Soh Chin Aun, midfielders Reduan Abadullah and Shukor Salleh and Mokhtar's partner up front, Isa Bakar, the Selangor FA and Malaysia national football team were a force to be reckoned with in the 70's.

In 1975, Mokhtar represented Malaysia national team against English giants Arsenal F.C. The Malaysian team won the game 2-0 with Mokhtar scoring both goals. After the game, Mokhtar was rumoured to have been offered a chance to play for the Gunners. He also famously scored the equalizing goal in a 1-1 draw against the England national B Team in 1978. He won his 100th cap for representing Malaysia when he played in a Merdeka Football Tournament match against the Japanese national football team in 1976. This Number 10 of Selangor FA also had a friendly game against another Number 10, Diego Maradona, when he met the Boca Juniors in January 1982.

Mokhtar retired in May 1986 after winning the Malaysia Cup for Selangor FA, making himself the man of the match. He also gave his number 10 jersey to the Raja Muda Selangor. He came out of retirement in January 1987 to play one more season for Selangor FA. In January 1988, Mokhtar joined Kwong Yik Bank and won the Selangor League that year. Mokhtar died at the age of thirty-seven of muscular dystrophy on 11 July 1991. - WIKIPEDIA

he Seladang Editorial Board recently interviewed an eminent Old Victorian, Encik Mokhtar Dahari, also known as "SuperMokh" at his home. We were greeted very warmly and were soon made to feel at home. Drinks were served and we started off with our first question. Being curious about his age, we asked him when he was born. Though he gave his year of birth without hesitation, the day and month remained a secret.

"I'd rather keep them just for my wife," he said. "Well, as for your question, let me see .. I'm 29 now and therefore I was born in... "

"1953!" we exclaimed. "Correct?"

"Precisely," SuperMokh replied.

"And how did you get into V.I.?" we asked.

"It's a rather long story," he began, "but I'll cut it short. You see, I entered V.I. in Form One. It was 1966 then. I stayed there for about four years till 1970. Actually I never expected to go to V.I."

But since he was active in school sports in his primary days that was probably one of the reasons why he was selected.

As someone who enjoys sporting activities and who has wide interests, SuperMokh was not only in the V.I football team but also in its rugby team besides playing hockey, basketball and swimming for his House.

"Life must have been fun, being a known figure in school?" we suggested.

"No, not exactly," SuperMokh conceded, rather casually. "I wasn't really known at that time as there were other prominent personalities to compete against, like the school athletes, for example."

Were we taken aback! "But I got by. Fame never comes easy, as the saying goes."

Puzzled and confused, we persisted, "Then how did you get into the limelight?"

Now the cheery SuperMokh emerged again. "Well, that came only after I left school."

"It was during a trial play with the Selangor Junior Squad at the Piala Razak Tournament," he recalled. "Later, my manager, Mr M J Vincent, recommmended that I join the senior squad and from then everything started coming my way."

"Was it then that you got into the Selangor team?"

"Yes it was," SuperMokh said spiritedly. "It was 1972. I'll always remember the year as it was during that year I was chosen for the Malaysia A Team after my splendid performance in Jakarta while in the B Team.

"What about your school days? What was the training like?" we asked, steering SuperMokh away from his wonderful memories.

"Well, he sighed, "the truth is that I was just an average player. My position was left wing striker. Even now I feel that the training methods of my school days were very raw. There weren't any qualified coaches at all. But Cikgu Othman Mohd Ali, our school coach, was really something. Though he taught us only from experience, he was very good. We were very disciplined and individual fitness was maintained. Sometimes we even had centralized training when we had to stay in the school!"

"But the parents!" we burst out simultaneously. "Didn't they ever object to all this?"

"Naturally"" SuperMokh explained. "But they accepted it later on. They let nature take its course."

SuperMokh told us more about the V.I. besides sports, football and training. He remembered the prefects well enough to have vivid memories of them.

"They were a strict bunch," he recalled. "They even warned me for having my bicycle modified. I was sent to detention class, once or twice, I think, where I had to polish hinges. Well, that was swell enough for me!

"My worse experience was when I failed two subjects and the report card given out on the same day that I was supposed to play against R.M.C. in the finals. But a couple of whacks from the Headmaster was enough to put some fire into my playing. We won the match as expected."

"What about your most memorable experience? Could it be any better than your worse," we asked inquisitively.

"My most memorable experience was, of course, the solitary goal I helped to score in the 1970 Laxamana Cup against the MCKK. This is one more of the things I'll always remember.

Commenting on the football system now, Super Mokh admitted that it was much better, with seminars and talks held to promote better football.

"Haven't you thought of coaching?" we asked.

"Coaching? Actually I was asked a few years back to coach the V.I. football team but because of my commitments and job, I'd rather leave it to Mr Rajasingam, who I personally think is very good."

"Mokhtar, after all this talk about football and school, what about yourself? Do you mind telling us?"

"Of course not! For a start, I'm an Executive Officer at PKNS, I am the Selangor State Football Captain and also the National Football Captain. At times I think these are too much for me but I get by like I used to, thanks to my own strategies and to my wife, Tengku Zarina and her encouragement. There was one time when I was asked to play for some other countries but I turned down the offer."

"I like listening to sentimental tunes, especially those of Air Supply and The Alley Cats. Lastly I would like to say that I'm proud to be a Victorian and may it be wiser every day."

We ended our interview by thanking one of Malaysia's greatest heroes for his time and kindness.

"To be a good footballer, you need three things:
discipline, dedication and determination.
Training is a must and never feel disheartened."

Mokhtar Dahari, Sportsman of the Year, 1977

VI The V.I. Web Page

Created: August 13, 2007.
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