In the 70s and early 80s, he was known as the “Gelek King”. It was a term of endearment which Singapore football fans gave him for the way he swaggers on the pitch with the ball at his feet. Indeed, when Dollah Kassim is in possession of the ball, few can take it away from him. Dribbling past three or four opponents is not a problem for the king of swagger.
The 70s was a golden time for Singapore soccer, especially in the Malaysia Cup competition which pitted Singapore, a city state, against the Malaysian states. No contest was more eagerly awaited each time than when Singapore meets Selangor in the competition.
It was seen as a clash of the titans.
The Singapore team, under the disciplinarian coach, Uncle Choo Seng Quee, attracted packed stadiums each time it played here. Capacity crowds of 70,000 was the norm in those days. Soon, the players became household names. It is said that when the team plays at the National Stadium, the entire nation is transfixed. And when Singapore scores a goal, the neighbourhoods shook with cheering.
Dollah Kassim was, along with the likes of Quah Kim Song, Mohamad Noh and team captain Samad Alipitchay, at the very heart of the Singapore team.
In this exclusive interview with TOC reader Po Hui Ko in 2009, Dollah speaks of those days of the 70s and about the one occasion which he is most proud of, as one who once donned the Singapore colours.
Dollah Kassim passed away on 14 October 2010. He was 61.
This is our little tribute to one who gave us such wonderful memories.
A true legend.
Thank you, Dollah.
*If you have pictures or videos of Dollah and/or of the national team of the 70s, do send them to us and we will update this tribute article with them. Our email is: [email protected].
You can also join in the discussion at the Kallang Roar football forum.