PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has lost another football legend. Wong Choon Wah died early Friday morning, on the first day of Chinese New Year.
According to Choon Wah's sister his death was due to "heart failure".
The 66-year-old former Selangor star was a household name in Malaysian football, having played for the national team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Widely acknowledged as one of the nation's most illustrious midfield schemers, Choon Wah played professional football in Hong Kong in the 70s.
Datuk Santokh Singh described Choon Wah as a “midfield maestro”.
“He was the best and that's why we were successful in the 70s. We played together in many international competitions – Anniversary Cup, King's Cup and of course the Merdeka Tournament. There is none like him and nobody can replace him. It was the golden era with the likes of Wan Zawawi, Hamzah Hussein and Ali Bakar,” said Santokh.
Kassim Abdullah, his former team-mate with Selangor said the death of Choon Wah was a big loss to the nation.
“You won't find another talented midfielder like Choon Wah. He was my teacher during my playing days with Selangor in the 70s. His commanding role in midfield won him a regular role in the national team. He was like a wizard in the engine room.
“We also played for our former employers MCIS in the Selangor League. Choon Wah is known for his playmaker role and good vision of the game,” recalled Kassim.
Choon Wah also won numerous accolades with the national team, including victory in the 1974 Merdeka Tournament when they beat South Korea (1-0) in the final. He was also a member of the bronze medal squad at the Tehran Asian Games in 1974.
That was the golden era of Malaysian football with the national team consisting of such greats as Lim Fung Kee, Namat Abdullah, Wong Voon Leong, Soh Chin Aun, Shukor Salleh, Santokh Singh, Wan Zawawi, Mohamed Bakar, Syed Ahmad, Mokhtar Dahari and Shaharuddin Abdullah.
His remains will be at Room E, The Association of Kwong Tong Cemetery (near Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka), Kuala Lumpur, where there will be prayers on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-10.30pm.
The cremation will be held on Monday at the Cheras DBKL Crematorium, Jalan Kuari, KL, at 1pm.