FAS' head salutes departing Tampines boss Teo
The New Paper's report of Teo Hock Seng stepping down as chairman of Tampines Rovers was widely circulated on social media yesterday.
Many former and current Tampines players shared the story and paid tribute to the man they call "boss", who transformed the club after taking over the helm in 1999.
Yesterday, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin also lauded the 69-year-old's influence on the local game.
"To put it simply, he's an icon of Singapore football and the S.League," Zainudin told TNP.
"The way he continued to keep Tampines challenging for honours year after year is amazing.
"He's closely associated with the success Singapore football has had over the years, and not many people know the sacrifice he makes and the work he does to support Singapore football in his own way, quietly in the background.
"I've come to realise that when I talk to him, I learn a lot.
"But whatever we talk about, it always comes back to the same thing: Players, and grooming talent for Singapore football.
"He calls it a National Service."
Club vice-chairman Murali Krishna Ramachandran, a 44-year-old lawyer, has succeeded Teo, and he has a tough act to follow.
Tampines had never won the S.League until Teo's appointment, and went on to lift the title five times (2004, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2013). They also won the Singapore Cup on three occasions (2002, 2004 and 2006).
They are also the last winners of the now-defunct Asean Club Championship (2005).
Teo, along with the now-retired Geylang International supremo Patrick Ang and Balestier Khalsa chief S Thavaneson, were the most outspoken of S.League chairmen.
With Ang and Teo having stepped aside, and Thava set to follow soon, there are some who are worried for the future of the S.League.
However, Zainudin said: "We must take things in perspective.
"We can't expect them to go on for years and years. There has to be a changing of the guard. Transition and transformation.
"Patrick, Thava and (Teo), the first generation leaders of Singapore football, are getting older.
"Now, we should look to people who are in their 40s and 50s to take over the reins.
"We have to look at it positively. It's a process of renewal and rejuvenation. He (Teo) has shown the way, we should learn from him."
Ang told TNP he hoped the FAS would pay more attention to the S.League, fearing for its future with the departure of Teo and the news that Thava is also close to stepping down.
Thava said the "uncertainty" surrounding the supposed changes to the form and structure of the S.League from next season, made the situation difficult.
Zainudin tried to assure the local football fraternity the changes would be announced in due time.
"We have talked about the review of the S.League throughout the year," he said. "It is taking longer than expected, but when we do it (announce changes), we will do it right.
"Rest assured, there will be a league for us to look forward to.
"When the review is completed, everything will be done with the parameters in place - the Asean Super League in 2017, the new season of the S.League, and our collaboration with the Football Association of Malaysia."