Former M-Cup-winning skipper dies, aged 81

Former M-Cup-winning skipper dies, aged 81
People pay their respects at the wake of former national soccer captain Lee Kok Seng on 23 August, 2014.

He was remembered by many fans here as one of Singapore's finest football captains who led his country with pride for 11 years.

For 1977 Malaysia Cup-winning defender Lim Teng Sai, Lee Kok Seng - who died in hospital on Friday evening - was an idol whose displays at the heart of Singapore's defence was a big reason Lim played in central defence as well.

Lee, 81, succumbed to pneumonia at around 6pm at the Singapore General Hospital, where he had been warded since the middle of last month. He leaves behind three children - sons Ivan (55 years old), Vincent (48) and daughter Serene (50) and six grandchildren.

"Growing up, Kok Seng was the one player I always looked out for when my dad brought me to watch the Singapore team play at the old Jalan Besar Stadium," said Lim, 61.

"He was probably one of the best central defenders we had because he read the game well and was hard in his tackles. Although I was a striker, I was inspired by his performances and went on to become a centre-back myself."

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) also paid tribute to the four-time Malaysia Cup-winning defender, who was nicknamed The Horse for his boundless energy.

"We are saddened to learn of former national captain Lee Kok Seng's passing," said FAS president Zainudin Nordin. "Mr Lee's name may not be familiar to today's generation of football fans, but he is fondly remembered by the veterans of the local football community and Pioneer Generation members as one of Singapore's best-ever defenders who wore the skipper's armband for 11 years...and served the national team with distinction.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones in this difficult time."

Lee became a businessman after hanging up his boots.

While many will remember him as a footballer, his youngest son Vincent will instead cherish memories of him as a doting father.

"I was born only after he retired from football in 1965 so I didn't know a lot about his achievements in the sport though I learnt about them over the years from fans who shared with me what a legend he was," said the manager in the automotive industry.

"What I do know and remember him as, though, is a father who was both a parent and a good friend.That, and the importance of spending time with family, is probably the greatest lesson I took from him in my life."

Lee's wake is held at Block 792B Choa Chu Kang North 6 and his body will be cremated at Hall 1 in Mandai Crematorium at 5pm tomorrow.

This article was first published on August 24, 2014.
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