KUALA LUMPUR, The late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah was a firm president when he led the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), with a strong passion for the game.
Current president Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, who served under the late Ruler from 1995 to 2015, said as FAM President then, the late Sultan was both firm and caring towards staff and officials.
A great loss for Malaysian football. His Majesty was such a caring Ruler. I’ve known him since being in the (FAM) executive council in 1995, and then served under his leadership as Vice-President (2010-2013) and General Secretary (2013-2015).
There are times when he was firm and times when he was caring. He was also always firm on the decisions made by FAM and passionate about football. Because football is the number one sport in the country, he was very committed towards football and held the position (as FAM President) for a long time, Hamidin said when contacted.
The late Sultan, who died at the National Heart Institute (IJN) at 8.50am at the age of 88, is the longest serving FAM president in its history, helming the association from 1984 until 2014.
The late Sultan also contributed to football at an international level, Asia in particular, by assuming the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s post from 1994-2002 and as President of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) from 2011-2019, but due to poor health condition, was not re-nominated for the position at the AFF Congress in Siem Reap in March.
Earlier, FAM in a statement, said that under the leadership of the late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, local football competition went through a rapid evolution, beginning with a semi-pro league introduced in 1989 before becoming professional in 1996 and transformed into the Super League in 2004.
In the last three decades, the late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah witnessed the success of the national squad, including the 1989 SEA Games gold medal, 1993 Pestabola Merdeka, SEA Games 2009 and 2011 gold, and the AFF Suzuki Cup victory in 2010.
The late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah also put Malaysia on the world map with the honour of hosting the FIFA Youth World Cup in 1997.
The late Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah led the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from 1994 to 2002 and among the figures that demanded for the expansion of quotas for the Asian continent in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, following the crisis in 1999 when the AFC delegation boycotted the FIFA Congress meeting in Los Angeles, the statement read.
Meanwhile, Pahang Super League squad coach, Dollah Salleh, who played for the national team from 1984-1996 and also for Pahang from 1991-1996, said Malaysian football has lost an invaluable leader.
We have a lost an irreplaceable jewel. My teammates and I, Zainal Abidin Hasan, especially, have lots of memories with Tuanku, and His Majesty is a nice person, he said in a sad tone.
There were times when he will meet us after games and crack jokes with us, said the former national coach. Also sharing his sadness was Malaysia Under-23 head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who uploaded a picture of the late Sultan on his Instagram account.
Seven years ago, the Harimau Muda squad lost to 1-5 Hungarian club Ferencvaros FC in a friendly match and the FAM President then, Sultan Ahmad Shah dropped by to meet us.
I still remember what he said: It’s alright that you lost 5-1. These are the type of matches and opponents we must face. We will continue to do what is right, Ong recalled the late Sultan as saying, and added: Thank you for everything. RIP, his Instagram post read.
The late Sultan was also a recipient of the AFC Diamond of Asia 2011 before being awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 2012 for his contributions the development of football.
Apart from football, the late Sultan was also a fan of polo, hockey, badminton and golf, and his efforts to be with the Malaysian contingent during the Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona dan Atlanta Olympic Games a strong testimony of his reputation as the nation’s number one sports fan.
Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)