Fighting the big C


Spending quality time: A file picture of Datuk Namat Abdullah playing with his grandson at his home in Sungai Petani, Kedah, in 2011.

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Namat Abdullah is used to taking everything in his stride – just like he did during his glory days in Malaysian football.

The Butterworth-born footballer has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer but like the way he kept attackers at bay as one of the Malaysian team’s best defenders, he is doing all he can to fight back.

After a picture of the 74-year-old football legend and 1974 Munich Olympics veteran appeared on social media, fans and friends were concerned.

In fact, Namat is in high spirits and despite not getting treatment at the Penang Hospital because of the Covid-19 pandemic, his wife Datin Mahani Sulaiman, 71, is adamant that it is not as bad as it looks.

Namat is currently with his wife and daughter Monaliza Namat in Taiping for the month of Ramadan.

“He has intestinal cancer. We are at our daughter’s home in Taiping. He is tired, but still in good spirits,” said Mahani, who has seven children and 16 grandchildren.

“We were supposed to send him for chemotherapy at the Penang Hospital but it has been postponed due to the Covid-19 situation. Due to his condition, we have to really practise social distancing.

“In Taiping, he went for some treatment but chemo can only be done after Hari Raya Aidilfitri. For now, we want to spend the Ramadan with our daughter and her kids.”

Namat played for Malaysia in the 1972 Olympics together with M. Chandran, Othman Abdullah, Soh Chin Aun, Khoo Huan Khen, Hamzah Hussain, Shahruddin Abdullah, Wan Zawawi Wan Yusof, V. Krishnasamy, Ibrahim Salleh, Harun Jusoh, Wong Kam Fook, Ali Bakar, Lim Fung Kee, Wong Choon Wah, Mohammed Bakar, Rahim Abdullah, Looi Loon Teik and Bahwandi Hiralal.

He won the 1973 Merdeka tournament and helped Malaysia to the bronze medal in the Teheran Asian Games in 1974.

Namat, together with brother Datuk Shaharuddin Abdullah worked for Penang Prisons Department, and were revered figures in the island’s football team.

Fellow football great and Penangite Datuk Shukor Salleh was the first to call when news of his condition was revealed.

“We had so many calls from well-wishers and friends. We are touched to hear that they wish him well and pray for him to beat the cancer. We were told that it could be Stage Four but we hope it is not. During this month of Ramadan, it would be great if football fans can pray for his well-being.

“Our children are also concerned about his welfare and we are happy to see the response from the family. Right now, the prayers of many would give him the strength to fight back,” said Mahani.

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