Once a Singapore star striker, retired Noh Alam Shah insists he does not miss football
For many footballers, calling time on their careers is a difficult thing to do.
Not Noh Alam Shah.
The 35-year-old former national ace (left) hung up his boots at the end of last season after spending more time on the bench than on the pitch for Tampines Rovers.
He recently started work at Komoco Motors' car rental division after being roped in by former Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng, whom he has described as a second father.
Alam Shah is at ease being away from the field.
"You know, when I was little, I had dreams to be a successful footballer and I achieved it," said the former hitman, who scored 35 goals in 80 appearances for the Lions.
"I got to play for my country, earn big bucks, travel everywhere, win trophies domestically and internationally... But, at some point, the dream has to end and you have to wake up.
"I really have lost the heart and motivation to play any more.
"Even if you put me in a packed National Stadium tomorrow, playing against Bayern Munich or Barcelona... I would still have no desire.
"Football, for me, is the past and letting go is... Not to say easy, but it's okay."
Alam Shah lost the passion to play as early as last May. That's when he began to also ferry passengers in his brother's car under the GrabCar ride-sharing service in his spare time.
A picture posted on Twitter of him and a GrabCar customer went viral last August, and some internet users ridiculed him for what they saw as a fall from grace by a football star.
Not that Alam Shah was at all bothered.
"My whole life, even when I was scoring goals and playing for the national team, I never saw myself as someone who was above others," he said.
"To me, a job is a job. My only thought was helping my brother out.
"I never thought it would become a big deal. It's not in my character to allow people to bring me down or affect me."
In fact, he said driving a GrabCar helped him through the final months of his contract with Tampines, where he had to drag himself to training sessions.
"When I drove the GrabCar, I met a lot of passengers who recognised me and told me they appreciated my contributions to Singapore football," he said.
"It helped me to carry on the last few months, keep my morale up."
His only goal now is to repay Teo for all the opportunities the 69-year-old managing director of Komoco Motors has given him.
Teo signed Alam Shah from Sembawang Rangers in 2002 despite the player's reputation as a hothead and has always been there for the striker through various disciplinary issues and controversies that plagued his career.
Teo even lent him $70,000 to post bail when his younger brother Noor Ashiq was sentenced to five years behind bars for a drug offence and possessing live ammunition in 2006.
Despite playing for Tampines for more than 10 years, Alam Shah says he has never negotiated any salary offered by Teo.
Added Alam Shah: "Now, I wake up knowing I'm doing the same thing ever since I played for Tampines - fight for boss.
"Every day, I just try to repay him. It's just in a different way now. My dream is to be like my manager, Yunos (Samad, another former Tampines player).
"He started from scratch, right after football, just like I am doing now. And he has worked for boss for 11 years... So that's the same thing I want to do.
"Two things made me a better player in the past: Fighting for him (Teo) and wanting to do the best for my kids. It's the same now."