Kim Siak dies, aged 72

Kim Siak dies, aged 72

SINGAPORE - He was the reason for a footballing buzz in the early Sixties in the Naval Base.

He played for Cashex in the very-competitive HMS Dockyard League which was dominated by teams littered with British servicemen.

Whenever word got round that he would be playing, throngs of spectators turned up to watch him perform.

The Deptford Road ground - with its background of moving ships and sometimes aircraft carriers - was his playground.

It was also the historic venue from which he launched a playing career that culminated in national colours.

And because he came from Singapore's most famous footballing family, there was added reason for fans to watch him play.

Quah Kim Siak, the fourth of six brothers to play for Singapore, died yesterday at the age of 72 from kidney, liver and lung complications.

One of best midfielders Singapore has produced, Kim Siak was roped into the national team at 19 after being declared the best midfielder in an Asian Under-23 tournament in 1960.

As younger brother Kim Lye, 70, says: "He was fabulous in the whole tournament. And he scored the only goal in our 1-0 victory over a highly-fancied Japanese team."

Siak, as he was popularly called, joined a national team that already had Kim Beng (the pioneer) and Kim Swee as key players.

PASSION

Later, after Kim Beng's retirement from the game, Siak played alongside Kim Swee, Kim Lye and Kim Song for clubs and the national team.

Elder son Soon Heng, 47, a technical manager with a bunkering company, said: "Naturally, football was his passion. And we know all about his footballing talent.

"But, more importantly, he was a caring and helpful husband (to wife Janet) and father (also to second son Soon Aik, 39, who is based in the United States)."

I experienced first-hand his naturalfootball skills, while playing alongside him in social matches, even when he was already in his late 40s.

I remember particularly a game at the Deptford ground in a friendly where he single-handedly carried our team to victory with a brilliant brace.

It was then that I seriously understood why footballers talked about his magical vision, and defensive and striking abilities.

He read the game so well and moved into attacking and defensive positions with an experienced eye, often bailing his teammates out of difficult situations.

As Kim Lye says: "My brothers and I did the scoring and always took the limelight. We made the headlines for scoring goals. But seriously, he was the quiet operator, who provided us the moves from which we poached goals."

Kim Song, 61, who once stated that Siak was the best footballer of all the Quahs, says: "He guided me all the time. He gave me good advice. And I admired him for his brilliance and tenacity from midfield."

Former national player Andy Yeo, says: "He was probably the quietest ofall the Quahs, doing his talking with his feet. He was a hardworking midfielder who played a simple game of passing.

"He was also a good reader of the game. He was also very fit and played at the highest levels until his late 30s. "With him, we managed to do well in the 1966 Merdeka tournament. We finished fourth to earn a ticket to the Asian Games that same year.

"We also played well in the Games at Bangkok, where we reached the semifinals. It was Singapore's best result at the Asian Games.

"I last saw him about two months ago at the SRC, where there was a gathering of ex-internationals. He came on crutches and needed support to move about. It was sad to see him in that condition."

Although Siak suffered in the last few weeks after being admitted to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital last month, he kept his spirits high.

Always with a positive attitude, Siak had always been a refreshing sight for teammates and fans.

And seldom a marked man for opponents, for he always knew a way out of tight situations.


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