Singapore Football

A master of his art, silent star Mat Noh departs

Mat Noh, a member of Singapore's 1977 football team, dies after heart attack

Former national footballer Mohamed Noh Hussein, who was a household name to many Singaporeans in the 1970s, died yesterday morning.

The 67-year-old former winger had suffered a heart attack on Sunday morning and was in critical condition at Sengkang General Hospital.

A member of Singapore's famed 1977 Malaysia Cup-winning side, "Mat Noh" became a reluctant poster boy for the team because of his good looks as well as his dribbling ability and skill.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) paid tribute to Noh in a Facebook post, recalling how he "also famously scored the winning goal in the first round of World Cup qualifiers on 6 March 1977, firing home a penalty in a 1-0 win at Kallang Stadium against a strong Malaysian side regarded as one of Asia's best at the time".

FAS president Lim Kia Tong said: "Like a true professional and role model, Mat Noh shied away from publicity and chose to let his talking be done on the pitch. Even when it was time to hang up his boots, he did it without much fanfare and fuss.

"Yet the impact that he left upon the generation of Singapore football fans was a lasting one, given the sheer number of messages that I received from numerous members of the football fraternity as well as the fans once they heard the unfortunate news about him yesterday."

Noh married local singing star Rahimah Rahim, with whom he had a daughter Pearl Nur Hida. The pair divorced in 1988 after 11 years.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Rahimah wrote that her former husband has returned to God. "May he be placed among the righteous," she added.

After Singapore were thrashed 4-0 by Selangor in the Malaysia Cup final in 1981, Noh retired from football.

Former Lions striker Ho Kwang Hock, 66, knew Noh since their youth and described the latter as a quiet, disciplined star who stayed away from the limelight and was a favourite of the late legendary coach Choo Seng Quee.

He said: "He was a gentleman who worked very hard in training - he just wanted to get his job done and that's why he was Uncle's (Choo) blue-eyed boy.

"He never argued with anyone, worked hard and that's how he became a notable footballer.

"He is one guy who didn't want any publicity."

Ho, who was also Noh's colleague in The Straits Times Press' marketing department from 1978 to 1981, said it is a pity that they won't get to have a meal together, something that they had been planning this year, along with teammates such as Quah Kim Song.

Despite his reserved nature, many also remember Noh as being generous with his advice.

Former national goalkeeper Yakob Hashim, who was just a teenager when he joined the national team in 1979, recalled how Noh's advice about the importance of planning for life after football has stuck with him over the years.

Yakob, who joined the police force after retiring from football, said: "He said that fame is just short (term) glory, you must always prepare yourself after that.

"I took his advice to prepare after my playing career and it's helped me through my life, to be a better family man and to take care of my family well.

"I'm very grateful to God that I got to know him."

Singapore Football