Choo Seng Quee

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Choo.
Choo Seng Quee
朱成贵
Uncle choo seng quee.jpg
Personal information
Full name Choo Seng Quee, Joseph[1]
Date of birth (1914-12-01)1 December 1914[1]
Place of birth Singapore
Date of death 30 June 1983(1983-06-30) (aged 68)[1]
Place of death Singapore
Playing position Centre-half[2]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1933–1939 Singapore Chinese FA
1939– Chinese Athletic Association[3]
1940–1941 Sing Tao
1945–1949 Chinese Athletic Association
National team
1936–1939 Singapore
Teams managed
19??–19?? Chinese Athletic Association (player-coach)
1945–1949 Chinese Athletic Association (player-coach)
1949–1950 Singapore FA
1951–1953 Indonesia
1952–1957 Star Soccerites[4]
1957 Marine Department Sports Club
1958–1964 Malaya / Malaysia
1964–1965 Singapore
1967 Singapore
1968–1969 Police Sports Association
1971 Singapore
1976–1977 Singapore
1980–1981 Johor FA
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Choo Seng Quee, Joseph, PBM (Chinese: 朱成贵; pinyin: Zhū Chéngguì;[5] 1 December 1914 – 30 June 1983), popularly known as Uncle Choo,[6] was a Singaporean footballer and football coach. He was coach of the Indonesia, Malaya / Malaysia and Singapore national teams. He is widely recognised as one of Singapore's best football coaches.[6][7][8]

Choo began his playing career playing as a right full-back with Singapore Chinese Football Association in the SAFA leagues in 1933.[9] His performances led to a call-up to the Singapore FA team in the Malaya Cup competition. He was converted to a centre-half as the Lions won the Malaya Cup in 1937 and 1939.[10] During World War II, he wrote propaganda for the British in Macau.[11] In 1939, he helped to found the Chinese Athletic Association where he took on the role of player-coach.[12] He retired as a player to concentrate on his coaching duties in 1949.

From 1951 to 1953, Choo coached the Indonesia national team on an honorary basis. The team toured Hong Kong in 1953, achieving wins over professional Hong Kong outfits. Choo was appointed Malaya national coach in 1958.[13] He led the team to three Merdeka Tournament titles from 1958 to 1960. With Choo, Malaya also won the 1961 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games football competition and the bronze at the 1962 Asian Games.[14][15] Choo left Malaysia and returned to Singapore in 1964. He was appointed Singapore national coach over four stints from 1964 to 1977. He won the Malaysia Cup in 1977, twelve years after Singapore's last triumph.[16] His achievements earned him the 1977 Coach of the Year award.[17] The following year, he was honoured with the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat medal for his services to Singapore football.[18]

Choo had a skin infection of his leg which he left untreated during the 1977 season. With diabetes as a complication, his condition worsened and he was forced to amputate his gangrenous right leg in September 1977.[19] He returned to coaching during a brief stint with Johor FA in 1980 but left in early 1981.[20] In June 1983, he was admitted to hospital with kidney problems.[21] He died at the age of 68 on 30 June.[7]

Early life[edit]

As a teenager, Choo would spurn his violin lessons to play football. This angered his elder brother that he ruined Choo's football kits and boots. His brother finally gave his approval and bought Choo a set of football equipment when he made Singapore's Malaya Cup squad.

Choo received his education at Victoria Bridge School and Raffles Institution.[2][22] He picked up football when he was studying for his Senior Cambridge certificate at Raffles Institution. He represented the school in the inter-school competition in 1930,[9] playing as a right full-back. National player Lim Yong Liang began to mentor him after he was impressed by his ability.[2]

Club career[edit]

Choo began his playing career for Singapore Chinese F.A.'s third team in the Third Division in 1933.[9] The club won all of their league games that season to win the title.[23] The following year, he was selected for their Second Division title-winning team. He broke into the S.C.F.A.'s senior team in 1935 and won the SAFA First Division in 1937 and 1938, and the SAFA Challenge Cup in 1935, 1937 and 1939.

His performances led to a call-up by Singapore FA[nb 1] for the Malaya Cup. He was converted to the centre-half position he played in the team from 1936 to 1939.[10] Choo won the Malaya Cup with Singapore in 1937 and 1939, after defeating Selangor in both finals.[24]

In 1939, Choo was part of the Malayan Chinese F.A. side that toured Manila, Hong Kong and Macau. The China national team selectors expressed interest in calling Choo for the 1940 Summer Olympics but the event was cancelled with the impending World War II.[2][9]

Choo left S.C.F.A. in 1939 to help found the Chinese Athletic Association[nb 2] as well as assuming the role of player-coach.[12] The club was admitted to the SAFA league in 1941. He played for Hong Kong club Sing Tao from 1940 to 1941.[2][25] Choo stayed in Macau and China during World War II,[2] and wrote propaganda while an agent for the British as manager of the British-backed Macao Tribune.[11] He once had to secretly relocate the fiancee of a Singapore friend from Macao to China and although he was found out by the Japanese, escaped capture by walking back to Macao over five nights.[11] Despite his activities, he was never caught during the Japanese occupation.

After the war, Choo returned to Chinese A.A. as player-coach. He retired as a player in 1949 to concentrate on his coaching duties.[26][27]

Coaching career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Choo was elected coach of Singapore Chinese F.A. in early 1949.[28] He started coaching Singapore FA for their Malaya Cup campaign in March 1949.[10] He stepped down as coach of S.C.F.A. in July 1949[29] and as manager and coach of Chinese A.A. a month later.[30]

In 1952, Choo became manager and coach of SAFA Second Division Star Soccerites,[4] a club he founded.[31][32] The club had ended 7th in the league the previous season but finished runners-up in 1952 to secure promotion to the First Division. Star Soccerites won the title in 1954.[23] On 5 March 1957, the club opened their league season with a record 17–1 win over Royal Engineers Civilian Association.[33] Choo left Star Soccerites in 1957 and joined Marine Department Sports Club, coaching them to the First Division title.[34]

Choo was appointed the first foreign coach of the Indonesia national team in 1951, which he held in an honorary position concurrent with his club duties. He led the team at the 1951 Asian Games. In April 1953, Indonesia toured Hong Kong, beating professional sides Hong Kong Interport 4–1, Hong Kong Selection 3–2, and Hong Kong Combined Chinese 5–1.[35][36]

Malaya / Malaysia[edit]

On 1 February 1958, Choo was employed on $700 monthly wages to coach the Malaya national team and hold coaching clinics for the Malay states.[13] Choo's first match in charge ended in a 5–2 victory over Singapore on 2 March.[37] Malaya hosted the five-nation Merdeka Tournament at the end of August,[38] defeating 1958 Asian Games bronze medalists Indonesia 3–2[39] and Hong Kong 3–0[40][nb 3] en route to winning the tournament.[41] Malaya started their defence of the Merdeka Tournament in 1959 with a 4–3 win over South Vietnam.[42] The team then drew 1–1 with India[43] before a 2–1 win over Hong Kong confirmed them as champions.[44] Nine countries took part in the 1960 Merdeka Tournament. Malaya began with a 3–0 win over Japan.[45] A 8–2 defeat of Thailand[46] and a one-goal win over Pakistan[47] followed. Malaya shared the trophy with South Korea after a goalless draw in the final.[48]

In January 1961, Choo signed a two-year contract extension with the FAM.[49] Right after extending his contract, Choo departed on a six-month coaching course in England where he was attached to champions Burnley[50] and other clubs like Everton, Sheffield United for the 1960–61 Football League season.[51][52][53][54] The trip was made under a personal arrangement by FAM president Tunku Abdul Rahman[nb 4] with a British Council bursary.[55] Choo tendered his resignation as Malayan national coach in 1961 but was persuaded by Tunku to continue in his coaching position. Tunku declared that his resignation "will certainly be a calamity to the football fraternity of Malaya".[52]

At the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games in December 1961, Malaya defeated Burma 2–1 and Cambodia 4–0 to top their group. They advanced to the final by virtue of winning the coin toss after a 2–2 draw with Thailand in the semi-finals.[56] Malaya scored two late goals in the final ten minutes to defeat hosts Burma 2–0 to win the football competition.[14]

Malaya opened their 1962 Asian Games campaign with a 15–1 win over the Philippines in the preliminary group stage.[57] They finished second in the group and were drawn against South Korea in the semi-final, which they lost 2–1 after extra time.[58] In the third-place play-off, Malaya defeated South Vietnam 4–1 to clinch the bronze medal.[15]

Choo's contract ended in March 1963 and was not renewed.[59] He was appointed the national schools coach responsible for training and scouting youth players on 1 April.[60][61] With the delay in the appointment of a new national coach, Choo was tasked by Tunku with coaching the Malaysia[nb 5] team from 10 September to prepare the players for the 1964 Olympics qualifiers and other upcoming tournaments.[62][63][64] Choo left Malaysia at the end of the Merdeka Tournament in September 1964[65] after he felt he was under-utilised in his coaching capacity.[66] Choo had also rejected coaching offers from Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia during his time with the FAM.[52][66][67]

Singapore[edit]

The SAFA had rejected Choo's previous offers to coach the Singapore national team.[67] Choo again indicated his availability to coach the team over his three months' leave from April 1964.[68] The next month, SAFA put in a request to engage Choo's services in training Singapore FA for the Malaya Cup.[69] Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malaysian Prime Minister and President of the FAM, approved Choo's secondment to SAFA in June.[70] Following a 1–1 draw,[71] Singapore beat Hong Kong 2–1 in the replay to claim the Aw Hoe Cup in July.[72][nb 6] The next month, Singapore defeated Perak 3–2 in the final to clinch the 1964 Malaya Cup.[73] Choo offered to coach Singapore in January 1965[74] and SAFA responded with a contract offer of $250 monthly wages plus a cut of the gate receipts in February[75] which Choo accepted in March. Singapore retained the Malaya Cup in 1965, defeating Selangor 3–1 in the final.[76] For the second consecutive year, Singapore won the Aw Hoe Cup after a replay.[77][78]

In December 1965, Singapore was eliminated at the group stage of the 1965 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games after losses to Burma and South Vietnam. On 28 December, the SAFA sacked Choo with immediate effect and dropped six players from national team due to alleged misconduct and insubordination at the 1965 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games.[79] Team manager Tan Peng Yee had reported that Choo "was being difficult from the very moment the team arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Hong Kong".[79] Choo was also charged with not following the manager's instructions and inciting resentment and undisciplined behaviour of the team in general.[79][80] He offered to assist in coaching the national team in June 1966[81] but was rejected by the FAS[nb 7] which cited a lack of funds to pay his salary.[82]

Choo was one of three coaches appointed to coach the national team reserves in January 1967[83] and took full reins over the reserves in March.[84][85] He returned as national coach on 8 August 1967,[86] taking charge of the squad for the Merdeka Tournament in the same month. Singapore ended up last in the 10-team competition.[87] Due to concerns expressed by Sports Minister Othman Wok that an inter-state competition is inappropriate for the national team, Singapore withdrew from the Malaysia Cup[nb 8] and FAM Cup in 1968 and 1969.[88] In his time outside the national team set-up, Choo coached Police Sports Association from September 1968 and led them to the 1968 President's Cup.[89]

In June 1971, the National Sports Promotion Board[nb 9] assigned Choo to the national team coaching panel.[90] Singapore was invited to the 12-nation Merdeka Tournament in August. The team defeated Hong Kong 2–1[91][92] and achieved a shock 1–0 win over pre-tournament favourites and 1970 Asian Games champions Burma.[93][94] Singapore failed to make the semi-finals after a 4–4 draw with the Philippines.[95] Choo later resigned in December due to poor health. In 1973, Choo rejected a coaching contract worth $2,800 per month, with first-class board and lodging, and free transport from professional Hong Kong club Caroline Hill FC.[52] He accepted an $2,500 per month offer by the PSSI to coach the West Irian state team in December[96] but resigned after two months.[97] The FAS rejected Choo's application for national coach in September 1974.[98] Between 1971 and 1975, Choo was also honorary coach of local clubs including Burnley United, Singapore Marble,[nb 10][99][100] Tampines Rovers,[101] and Farrer Park.[102]

On 2 September 1976, Choo was appointed to coach Singapore for the preliminary World Cup tournament in February 1977 in his 4th stint with the FAS.[103] His appointment prompted FAS advisor Trevor Hartley, coach Hussein Aljunied and trainer Andrew Yap to resign from the coaching panel[103][104] although Hussein would return to assist Choo in late September.[105] With the support of newly elected FAS chairman N. Ganesan, Choo was able to have non-interference in matchday selection of players for the first time.[104] Singapore started the tournament with a 2–0 win over Thailand and a 2–2 draw with Hong Kong.[106] They then defeated fancied Malaysia 1–0 [107] to secure a play-off spot despite losing to Indonesia in the last group match. In the play-off match on 12 March, Singapore lost 1–0 to Hong Kong to eliminate their chances of reaching the final qualifying round.[108] Choo had announced his intention to relinquish his position after the play-off due to his advanced age and a need to focus on his business.[109] but eventually stayed on as national coach on a voluntary basis[110] with performance-based payouts.[111]

"But Singapore players let the ball do work for them because my theory has always been that a player can never be fitter than the ball. And the ball can never get tired."

– Choo on the 1977 Malaysia Cup final.[112]

In the 1977 Malaysia Cup, Singapore overcame defending champions Selangor 4–2 over two legs to advance to the final.[113][114] Twelve years after its last triumph, Singapore defeated Penang 3–2 to win the Malaysia Cup on 28 May.[16][112][115] Choo was praised for his tactical substitutes in the second half in which he replaced captain Samad Allapitchay and free-kick specialist S. Rajagopal with Lim Teng Sai and Nasir Jalil respectively.[115] Following reported unhappiness of the players over the disparity in bonuses and mistreatment by the management leading to an alleged boycott of training,[116][117] Choo rejected a one-year contract offer by the FAS[111] and tendered his resignation on 27 June[118] but withdrew it after talks with the FAS and the national players.[119][120]

Choo had developed a skin infection on his right leg after a fall sustained during the Malaysia Cup semi-final second leg against Selangor in May.[121] He failed to seek treatment and with diabetes as a complication, gangrene set in. He had his lower right leg amputated in September.[19] Following his operation, Choo was relieved of his duties as national coach. Despite the loss of his leg, Choo stated his intention to continue coaching.[122] He returned to coaching with Malaysian outfit Johor FA mid-way through the 1980 season[123] but left the team abruptly in January 1981.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Choo and wife Margaret Boon Khin Siang had three children - son Boon Keng, Robert and daughters Geok Lan, Theresa and Geok Kim, Helen.[124]

Choo was the owner of the Maju Jaya Sports Store at Owen Road, Singapore. Choo had donated trophies made by his store for football competitions.[125][126]

Choo was a diabetic. He refused treatment for a leg infection leading into the 1977 Malaysia Cup final. His condition worsened and he had his gangrenous right lower leg amputated to the knee on 14 September 1977.[19] As a result of spreading gangrene, a further amputation on his right upper leg was performed five days later.[127] Choo's heart stopped thrice - during the first and second operations, and a third following internal bleeding.[128]

Death[edit]

Choo was hospitalised with kidney problems in June 1983.[21] On 30 June, he passed away at the age of 68 in his sleep at home.[7] Over 1,500 fans attended his funeral wake and around 500 mourners were present at his burial. Players Edmund Wee, Quah Kim Song, Ho Kwang Hock, R. Suriamurthi, T. Pathmanathan were among the pallbearers.[129]

Honours[edit]

Choo's performances in the preliminary World Cup tournament and the 1977 Malaysia Cup win earned him recognition with the 1977 SNOC Coach of the Year award.[17] He was honoured with the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat medal in 1978 for his services to Singapore football.[18] On 3 August 1982, he received a First Class gold medal from the PSSI for his contributions to Indonesian football.[130]

Player[edit]

Singapore Chinese Football Association

  • SAFA First Division: 1937, 1938
  • SAFA Second Division: 1934
  • SAFA Third Division: 1933
  • SAFA Challenge Cup: 1935, 1937, 1939

Singapore FA

References:[23][24]

Coach[edit]

Star Soccerites

  • SAFA First Division: 1954 [23]

Marine Department Sports Club

  • SAFA First Division: 1957 [34]

Police SA

Singapore FA

Malaya

Individual[edit]

Civil[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Singapore FA were the representative state team which participated in Malayan competitions.
  2. ^ Also known as Chung Wah FC.
  3. ^ The Hong Kong players apparently made up the same team that won the 1958 Asian Games gold medal for the Republic of China.[131]
  4. ^ Tunku was also the Malayan Prime Minister.
  5. ^ The country of Malaysia was formed through the merger of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore on 16 September 1963.
  6. ^ The Aw Hoe Cup was an annual competition between Singapore and Hong Kong.
  7. ^ Formerly SAFA.
  8. ^ a b The Malaya Cup was renamed the Malaysia Cup in 1967.
  9. ^ Caretakers of FAS pending election of new FAS council.
  10. ^ Later renamed Toa Payoh United.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Obituaries - 143 Acknowledgements". The Straits Times. 6 July 1983. p. 36. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Missed place in Olympic XI". The Singapore Free Press. 6 April 1949. p. 10. 
  3. ^ "Chinese Play First Game In League". The Straits Times. 21 May 1939. p. 28. 
  4. ^ a b "Soccerites may star in Jnr. division". The Straits Times. 26 February 1952. p. 8. 
  5. ^ 无标题. 联合早报 (Lianhe Zaobao) (in Chinese). 1 July 1983. p. 18. 
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  7. ^ a b c "Farewell...". The Straits Times. 1 July 1983. p. 1. 
  8. ^ "He was the best". Singapore Monitor. 30 June 1983. p. 29. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Soccer notes - A forecast for senior league". The Straits Times. 19 March 1949. p. 12. 
  10. ^ a b c "S.A.F.A. coach has plan for victory". The Straits Times. 18 March 1949. p. 8. 
  11. ^ a b c Dorai, Joe (11 March 1978). "Ex-agent Seng Quee gets an offer". The Straits Times. p. 31. 
  12. ^ a b "C.A. To Re-affiliate". The Straits Times. 5 May 1948. p. 12. 
  13. ^ a b Fernandez, Ken (31 January 1958). "First job will be to tour states". The Straits Times. p. 16. 
  14. ^ a b c "Soccer win gives Malaya 12 golds in Games". The Straits Times. 17 December 1961. p. 1. 
  15. ^ a b c "Yesterday's results". The Straits Times. 4 September 1962. p. 19. 
  16. ^ a b Seneviratne, Percy (29 May 1977). "The Malaysia Cup is ours after twelve long years". The Straits Times. p. 22. 
  17. ^ a b c "Top award goes to Junie". The Straits Times. 1 March 1978. p. 1. 
  18. ^ a b c Dorai, Joe (9 August 1978). "Spore honours Ganesan, Choo". The Straits Times. p. 25. 
  19. ^ a b c "Seng Quee loses leg". The Straits Times. 15 September 1977. p. 28. 
  20. ^ a b "Out...". The Straits Times. 8 January 1981. p. 31. 
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  33. ^ "17 goals! The shooting stars are off". The Straits Times. 6 March 1957. p. 16. 
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  50. ^ "Coach Choo of Malaya a guest of Burnley". The Singapore Free Press. 25 January 1961. p. 14. 
  51. ^ Siebel, Norman (1 December 1960). "Seng Quee gets UK trip". The Straits Times. p. 19. 
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  60. ^ Siebel, Norman (5 March 1963). "Govt servant Choo Seng Quee now Schools coach". The Straits Times. p. 17. 
  61. ^ "New job for Choo hailed". The Straits Times. 6 March 1963. p. 15. 
  62. ^ "Tengku to Choo: We need you". The Straits Times. 25 August 1963. p. 14. 
  63. ^ "Hopeful". The Straits Times. 27 August 1963. p. 20. 
  64. ^ Boey, Francis (27 August 1963). "Malaysia team will be under Choo's wing from Sept. 10". The Straits Times. p. 20. 
  65. ^ Fernandez, Ken (30 January 1965). "Choo may lose coaching job". The Straits Times. p. 23. 
  66. ^ a b Dorai, Joe (2 February 1965). "Coach Choo explains". The Straits Times. p. 19. 
  67. ^ a b "Japanese want Seng Quee to coach them". The Straits Times. 8 January 1959. p. 14. 
  68. ^ Dorai, Joe (15 April 1964). "Seng Quee offers to coach S'pore 3 months". The Straits Times. p. 18. 
  69. ^ "S'pore bid to get Seng Quee as coach". The Straits Times. 28 May 1964. p. 16. 
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  82. ^ "Services' Briggs is appointed coach". The Straits Times. 20 July 1966. p. 19. 
  83. ^ "Choo is back on coaches panel". The Straits Times. 17 January 1967. p. 17. 
  84. ^ "FAS want Choo to coach Reserves". The Straits Times. 8 March 1967. p. 17. 
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  86. ^ Dorai, Joe (9 August 1967). "Youth stars in Spore team to KL". The Straits Times. p. 21. 
  87. ^ "Aussies sink S'pore". The Straits Times. 25 August 1967. p. 21. 
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  96. ^ Dorai, Joe (19 December 1973). "Choo accepts coaching job in West Irian". The Straits Times. p. 33. 
  97. ^ "Happy Valley keen to play here". The Straits Times. 3 July 1974. p. 25. 
  98. ^ Dorai, Joe (11 September 1974). "Choo and Rahim fail to get coaching jobs with FAS". The Straits Times. p. 25. 
  99. ^ "Junior AA regain their FAS Div One status". The Straits Times. 22 May 1972. p. 26. 
  100. ^ Dorai, Joe (15 September 1975). "Toa Payoh XI stars flop". The Straits Times. p. 29. 
  101. ^ Dorai, Joe (5 July 1974). "Injured Saba hit for five". The Straits Times. p. 29. 
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