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Football Legend Mokhtar Dahari Once Had An Offer To Play For Real Madrid, But He Turned Them Down

For a very patriotic reason.

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Football Legend Mokhtar Dahari Once Had An Offer To Play For Real Madrid, But He Turned Them Down
To be honest, we don't think we need to stress just how sorry the state of our national football team is.

From the glory days of qualifying for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games to being crowned champions at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, it's sad to see that our once proud Harimau Malaya is now nothing but a tame kitten.

But that doesn't mean that we do not have great talents and world shakers when it comes to football: we have seen plenty of local footballers getting offers to play outside of the country, and some of them have not even turned 20 yet:


However, none of these talented footballers can compare to the greatest of them all: Dato' Mohd. Mokhtar Dahari.

(If you're too young to know who he is, well, read on; you may just be impressed by his awesomeness)

Humble beginnings

Ever since he was a kid, it was evident that Mokhtar Dahari was destined to do great things on the football pitch.

Born on 13 November 1953 at Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Mokhtar was the first son of Dahari Abeng, who was a lorry driver, and Aminah Sharikan.

They moved to Kampung Pandan when Mokhtar was just 11, and that was when he developed an interest in football.

Within just a couple of months, he was selected to play for his school team, Victoria Institution, and he netted the winning goal in a final match which helped his school emerge as champion in 1968.

Noticing that his son may have talent in football, Dahari used a portion of his modest salary to buy him a pair of football boots.

If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, then that pair of football boots was the item that launched the career of Malaysia's greatest football player.

An elite athlete even at a young age.
Mokhtar's dazzling skills captured the attention of the Selangor youth team, and they soon came knocking on his door.

When he turned 18, the Selangor Youth Team recruited Mokhtar to play for their squad in the Burnley Youth Cup, which was held in Sarawak.

The team won the Cup, and Mokhtar's skills didn't go unnoticed as he was then called up to play for the senior Selangor team.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The case of a stolen motorbike

Mokhtar Dahari made his debut for Selangor in 1971, and he would go on to play 375 matches for them.

But it wasn't all rosy for Mokhtar back in the day.

While it is now the norm for footballers these days to sign massive million-dollar contracts, it wasn't the case back then.

To support himself and his family, Mokhtar worked as a bank clerk during the day, and he would turn up to training after office hours.

The making of a superstar.
Unlike modern-day footballers, Mokthar and his teammates would only receive small sums of money, and he depended on his trusty old motorbike to get him to work and back.

It was also that same motorbike that almost made Mokhtar quit his football career before it even started.

When he realised that his motorbike was stolen one day, he was so devastated that he, rather rashly, decided to quit playing football.

Thankfully, a motorcycle manufacturer stepped in to save the day, giving him a new motorbike so that he can once again travel to the training ground. 

Touched by their generousity, Mokhtar made a promise to train harder and become the greatest footballer the country has ever seen.

The son of Selangor

Mokhtar helped Selangor to ten Malaysia Cup titles.
With renewed confidence, Mokhtar suited up for Selangor full time and quickly became the team's most important player.

He became Selangor's top goal scorer in just his first season playing for the team, and his goals helped turn the club into a powerhouse.

In 1972, in just his second season with Selangor, he scored nine goals in the prestigious Malaysia Cup to carry his team in the tournament, which they won.

Mokhtar's scoring prowess helped Selangor win ten Malaysia Cup tournaments in 14 editions, highlighted by the unbelievable 19 goals he scored in the 1974 edition of the tournament.

Ronaldo, who?

Legend, meet legend.
Speaking of footballing legends, on 14 January 1982, Mokhtar had a chance to play against his South American equivalent, the late Diego Maradona, in a friendly match against Boca Juniors FC at Stadium Merdeka.

Boca Juniors won the match 2-1, but Mokhtar Dahari won our hearts.

The legend of 'Supermokh'

When he strikes the ball, just beware.
As Mokhtar's star continue to rise, football fans have started calling him 'Supermokh' due to his incredible strength and speed on the football pitch.

His opponents would come to fear his dribbling skills and pin point accuracy.

Mokhtar has a very muscluar and strong physique, which defenders found hard to contain. He was known to go on speedy solo runs up the field, before unleashing a cannon from his foot.

His shot was so powerful, in fact, it was said that it broke three of former legendary national goalkeeper R. Arumugam’s fingers who tried to stop one of his shots in practice.

Mokhtar was an opponent's nightmare.
While his opponents would cower in fear every time they face him, fans totally adored Mokhtar.

The stadiums would roar with the chants of "Supermokh!" every time he stepped onto the pitch. The younger generation who idolised him would try to imitate his moves on the pitch.

In 1976, Supermokh was featured in World Star Soccer magazine's list of Asia’s best strikers.

To top it all off, he was also named Malaysia's Sportsman of the Year in the same year, the first footballer to be awarded that title since the award's inception a decade ago.

The world is his stage

Unstoppable when he had the jersey on.
Supermokh was only 19 years old when he was called up to play for the national team in an international game against Sri Lanka in 1972.

Before long, just like how it was with Selangor, Supermokh quickly became the man in the national football squad.

Together with local footballing legends Santokh Singh, Soh Chin Aun and R. Arumugam, to name a few, Mokhtar -- who was bestowed with the iconic No. 10 jersey worn by the likes of Maradona and Zinedine Zidan -- ushered in a golden era of football in Malaysia.

The Harimau Malaya became one of the teams to beat on the international stage, as they won tournament after tournament, including the Asian Games bronze medal in 1974 and the back-to-back SEA Games gold medal in 1977 and 1979.


One of his more memorable matches occured in 1975 when he scored both goals for the Malaysia League XI team in a 2-0 friendly match win against English club Arsenal.

After the match, rumours emerged that several high-profile English clubs have interest in signing him.

While nothing came out of the rumours, Mokhtar did, in fact, receive an offer from Spanish club Real Madrid to play for them, according to a 1995 book titled 'Giving The Game Away' by Stephen Wagg.

However, Mokhtar declined the offer due to his loyalty to club and country, famously saying: "I live and die for Selangor".

When it's all said and done, Mokhtar scored 86 international goals in 131 appearances for the national team, officially making him the third highest international goal scorer in the history of the sport.

The end of an era

One final hurrah for Mokhtar.
In 1986, Mokhtar once again led Selangor to Malaysia Cup success, smashing Johor 6-1 in the final.

During the post-match celebration, he handed his No. 10 jersey to the Sultan of Selangor, Sharafuddin Idris Shah, during which he made a shocking revelation: he is retiring from football.

Football fans were stunned, and they were unwilling to say goodbye to arguably the greatest footballer the country was blessed with.

Saying goodbye to a legend.
Despite retiring from football, Mokhtar still spent a lot of time around the beautiful game, taking up coaching duties with Kwong Yik Bank.

However, as fate would have it, Mokhtar did not get to spend his golden years reminiscing about his illustrous playing career.

He started collapsing on the pitch during his training sessions, and after a thorough check up, doctors diagnosed that he was suffering from a rare type of motor neurone disease.

After three years of battling the disease, Mokhtar passed away at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre on 11 July 1991 at the age of 37.

Paying tribute to the legend.
Mokhtar Dahari may no longer be with us, but his legacy still remains.

Earlier this month, Selangor FC, the football club that Supermokh spent his entire playing career with, launched their brand new jersey that was inspired by the legacy of Malaysia's greatest football player.

Like they say: stars will fade, but a legend never dies.
 
 
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