New Straits Times - - LETTERS - DATUK AB­DUL KADIR MOHD DEEN For­mer Malaysian am­bas­sador to Ger­many

IFEEL com­pelled to write this given the con­tro­versy over the sack­ing of Lim Teong Kim as foot­ball coach for the na­tional Un­der-16 team. The sack­ing came within hours of the team fail­ing to qual­ify for next year’s Un­der-17 World Cup in Peru.

Malaysia lost 2-0 to Ja­pan last month and was elim­i­nated in the group stages of the AFC U-16 Cham­pi­onship.

As Malaysia’s am­bas­sador to Ger­many (1999-2003), I got to know Lim quite well.

He was liv­ing in the Mu­nich area when I first met him in 1999, soon af­ter ar­riv­ing in Ger­many.

He was closely as­so­ci­ated with the Mu­nich-Malaysian So­ci­ety. He was in­tro­duced to me as the coach of the Bay­ern Mu­nich Youth Team. Imag­ine my sur­prise that a Malaysian could be­come the coach of the Youth Team of the lead­ing Ger­man pro­fes­sional foot­ball club!

Ber­lin, where the Malaysian em­bassy is based, is in the north and Mu­nich is in the south of Ger­many, and Lim and his col­leagues served as the “door­way” to other Malaysians for me. Suf­fice to say, my friends in the Mu­nichMalaysian So­ci­ety were in­valu­able to my work.

I had, of course, known of Lim’s ex­ploits in Malaysian foot­ball. I had wit­nessed him as a player on our na­tional side.

To me, Lim was a hero of Malaysian foot­ball, in the mould of Ghani Min­hat, Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Da­hari, San­tokh Singh, and other greats of Malaysian foot­ball.

I was de­lighted when I read that Lim be­came a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional foot­baller in Ger­many, play­ing for Hertha Ber­lin, now in Di­vi­sion One of Ger­many’s Bun­desliga. I be­lieve he is the only Malaysian to have a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional ca­reer in Ger­many.

Af­ter I re­tired from the For­eign Ser­vice, I of­ten re­turned to Ger­many and met Lim. He, too, came home to Malaysia of­ten and never failed to visit me.

Sev­eral years ago, Lim told me he was asked to con­sider com­ing home to Malaysia to coach.

He told me that he would only con­sider coach­ing our youth, for he felt that youth de­vel­op­ment held the key to Malaysia’s re­vival as a foot­balling na­tion.

He felt that we needed to re­build our foot­ball at the youth level if we wanted to reach the kind of heights that our na­tional team once reached.

I was most en­cour­aged that a coach of one of the most suc­cess­ful clubs in the world was will­ing to put his fu­ture in our youth.

I felt Lim could do much by trans­form­ing our young to be world-beat­ers.

Lim had suc­cess­fully trained play­ers like Thomas Muller and Emre Can, and a host of oth­ers for the club and coun­try; to have him train our young would be ideal.

Here was a man whose pro­fes­sional ca­reer had taken him to Ger­many, first as a player, then as a coach for 12 years for one of Europe’s top sides.

I know for a fact that Lim is, first and fore­most, a Malaysian pa­triot; that is why he de­cided to forgo a lu­cra­tive ca­reer in Ger­many.

I have known him to be driven by a pas­sion for his coun­try and by his love for foot­ball. It is my hope that Lim would get a fair hear­ing from our new Min­is­ter of Youth and Sports, Syed Sad­diq Syed Ab­dul Rah­man.

It is also my be­lief that the FA of Malaysia’s de­ci­sion to dis­miss Lim may have been made in haste.

I can­not imag­ine that it is money which drew Lim home.

It is a grave in­jus­tice to the man if the Malaysian pub­lic is left with the im­pres­sion that Lim is “only here for the money”.

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