Mokhtar Dahari (1953 - 1991) was a legendary Malaysian national football team player
from Selangor. Born in Setapak on 13 November 1953, he became one of the best players
in Asia in the 1970s. He was Malaysia's best striker. Mokhtar showed interest in playing
football at an early age. He played for his school and later for his home state,
Selangor FA. He was only nineteen years old when he first played for the Malaysia
national football team in an international game. Mokhtar helped Selangor FA win the
Malaysia Cup 10 times and scored 177 goals altogether. In international games, he
scored a total of 125 goals in 167 caps for the Malaysian team.
The Merdeka Stadium was his second home amidst roars of "Supermokh"
from the young generation who worshipped him. Along with goalkeeper R Arumugam, defenders
Santokh Singh and Soh Chin Aun, midfielders Reduan Abadullah and Shukor Salleh and
Mokhtar's partner up front, Isa Bakar, the Selangor FA and Malaysia national football
team were a force to be reckoned with in the 70's.
In 1975, Mokhtar represented Malaysia national team against
English giants Arsenal F.C. The Malaysian team won the game 2-0 with Mokhtar scoring
both goals. After the game, Mokhtar was rumoured to have been offered a chance to play
for the Gunners. He also famously scored the equalizing goal in a 1-1 draw against the
England national B Team in 1978. He won his 100th cap for representing Malaysia
when he played in a Merdeka Football Tournament match against the Japanese national
football team in 1976. This Number 10 of Selangor FA also had a friendly game against
another Number 10, Diego Maradona, when he met the Boca Juniors in January 1982.
Mokhtar retired in May 1986 after winning the Malaysia Cup for Selangor
FA, making himself the man of the match. He also gave his number 10 jersey to the Raja Muda
Selangor. He came out of retirement in January 1987 to play one more season for Selangor
FA. In January 1988, Mokhtar joined Kwong Yik Bank and won the Selangor League that year.
Mokhtar died at the age of thirty-seven of muscular dystrophy on 11 July 1991. -
he Seladang Editorial Board recently interviewed an eminent
Old Victorian, Encik Mokhtar Dahari, also known as "SuperMokh"
at his home. We were greeted very warmly and were soon made to feel
at home. Drinks were served and we started off with our first question.
Being curious about his age, we asked him when he was born. Though he
gave his year of birth without hesitation, the day and month remained
"I'd rather keep them just for my wife," he said.
"Well, as for your question, let me see .. I'm 29 now and therefore I
was born in... "
"1953!" we exclaimed. "Correct?"
"Precisely," SuperMokh replied.
"And how did you get into V.I.?" we asked.
"It's a rather long story," he began, "but I'll cut
it short. You see, I entered V.I. in Form One. It was 1966 then. I
stayed there for about four years till 1970. Actually I never expected
to go to V.I."
But since he was active in school sports in his
primary days that was probably one of the reasons why he was selected.
As someone who enjoys sporting activities and who
has wide interests, SuperMokh was not only in the V.I football team
but also in its rugby team besides playing hockey, basketball and
swimming for his House.
"Life must have been fun, being a known figure in school?"
"No, not exactly," SuperMokh conceded, rather casually. "I
wasn't really known at that time as there were other prominent personalities
to compete against, like the school athletes, for example."
Were we taken aback! "But I got by. Fame never comes easy,
as the saying goes."
Puzzled and confused, we persisted, "Then how did you get
into the limelight?"
Now the cheery SuperMokh emerged again. "Well, that
came only after I left school."
"It was during a trial play with the Selangor Junior
Squad at the Piala Razak Tournament," he recalled. "Later, my manager,
Mr M J Vincent, recommmended that I join the senior squad and from then
everything started coming my way."
"Was it then that you got into the Selangor team?"
"Yes it was," SuperMokh said spiritedly. "It was 1972.
I'll always remember the year as it was during that year I was chosen for
the Malaysia A Team after my splendid performance in Jakarta while in the
"What about your school days? What was the training
like?" we asked, steering SuperMokh away from his wonderful memories.
"Well, he sighed, "the truth is that I was just an
average player. My position was left wing striker. Even now I feel that
the training methods of my school days were very raw. There weren't any
qualified coaches at all. But Cikgu Othman Mohd Ali, our school coach, was
really something. Though he taught us only from experience, he was very
good. We were very disciplined and individual fitness was maintained.
Sometimes we even had centralized training when we had to stay in the
"But the parents!" we burst out simultaneously. "Didn't they
ever object to all this?"
"Naturally"" SuperMokh explained. "But they accepted it
later on. They let nature take its course."
SuperMokh told us more about the V.I. besides sports,
football and training. He remembered the prefects well enough to have
vivid memories of them.
"They were a strict bunch," he recalled. "They even
warned me for having my bicycle modified. I was sent to detention class,
once or twice, I think, where I had to polish hinges. Well, that was swell
enough for me!
"My worse experience was when I failed two subjects
and the report card given out on the same day that I was supposed to play
against R.M.C. in the finals. But a couple of whacks from the Headmaster
was enough to put some fire into my playing. We won the match as expected."
"What about your most memorable experience? Could it be
any better than your worse," we asked inquisitively.
"My most memorable experience was, of course, the
solitary goal I helped to score in the 1970 Laxamana Cup against the MCKK.
This is one more of the things I'll always remember.
Commenting on the football system now, Super Mokh admitted
that it was much better, with seminars and talks held to promote better football.
"Haven't you thought of coaching?" we asked.
"Coaching? Actually I was asked a few years back to
coach the V.I. football team but because of my commitments and job,
I'd rather leave it to Mr Rajasingam, who I personally think is very good."
"Mokhtar, after all this talk about football and school,
what about yourself? Do you mind telling us?"
"Of course not! For a start, I'm an Executive Officer
at PKNS, I am the Selangor State Football Captain and also the National Football
Captain. At times I think these are too much for me but I get by like I used
to, thanks to my own strategies and to my wife, Tengku Zarina and her
encouragement. There was one time when I was asked to play for some other
countries but I turned down the offer."
"I like listening to sentimental tunes, especially
those of Air Supply and The Alley Cats. Lastly I would like
to say that I'm proud to be a Victorian and may it be wiser every day."
We ended our interview by thanking one of Malaysia's greatest
heroes for his time and kindness.
"To be a good footballer, you need three things:
dedication and determination.
Training is a must and never feel disheartened."
Mokhtar Dahari, Sportsman of the Year, 1977