"Zico of Malaysia"

 

HEIGHT and weight was never a problem for former international, pint-sized Khalid Shahdan in pursuit of his colorful football career.

The Johor-born Khalid practically won every football title at all levels in Malaysia and became a household name in Malaysia during his playing career which spanned over 15 years from 1981 to 1996 before calling it quits.

He ended his playing career on a winning note when he helped Johor FC win the FAM Cup twice in a row in 1995 and 1996 – the first team to ever retain the title.

Khalid stood at only 1.65m and weighed only 50kg but it did not stop him from donning national colours from 1985 – 1989 and played in the 1987 Jakarta SEA Games where Malaysia won the silver medal, losing  to hosts Indonesia in the final.

His other international achievements included winning the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Cup in Brunei in 1985 – the year when he was also voted the “Best Player”  in Malaysia after helping  Johor win their first ever Malaysia Cup, beating favorites Kuala Lumpur in the final.

A year later in 1986, Khalid played an instrumental role in Malaysia’s success in winning the prestigious Merdeka Tournament. This was followed by winning the Penang City Cup title in 1987.

With his small frame, it is not a surprise that Khalid’s football idol was none other than Brazilian ace Zico. Khalid thus earned the nickname of “Zico of Malaysia” while some even called him the Kevin Keegan of Malaysia after the nippy Englishman.

On the international front, if there is one match which Khalid still remembers is the Keirin Cup match against English football giants West Ham in Tokyo in 1985. Playing for Harimau Malaysia, Khalid scored two goals against West Ham who had Phil Parks in goal and Tony Cottee as striker, who once played for Selangor in the M-League.

The Malaysians lost 7-2 but it is a match which Khalid still remembers and will remember for the rest of his life. The Japanese crowd in the stands loved it and Khalid loved it too.

“It is one match that I will never forget.  The score-line did not reflect the game. We gave West Ham a good fight. Personally, it was an achievement for me and my football career. Probably, no one gave me a chance to score against West Ham, especially with Phil Parks in goal but I did score…not one but two,” said Khalid with pride.

On the local front, Khalid was Johor’s playmaker. The nippy Khalid was Johor’s ace in the pack and 1991 stands out as the year when Johor ruled Malaysian football. Johor became the first team to clinch a grand double when the state won the prestigious Malaysia Cup and the League Cup the same year. It was a year when Johor also landed the Agong’s Cup to complete a hat-trick of titles

Khalid may have retired from competitive football but his love for the game saw him do what is next best after playing days – go into coaching.

And he has a string of coaching certificates, including Football Association of Malaysia “A” Licence and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Professional Coaching Diploma. He also attended the Brazilian Football Academy Diploma Course of Modern Brazilian Football for Foreign Trainers and Coaches in 1997.

Khalid has coached Johor for various age-group national championships apart from coaching the Johor state team in the M-League from 2004-2005. Khalid was the chief coach when Johor won the Sultans’ Gold Cup in 2007.

The FAM did not let his coaching potential go to waste and made him FAM’s head coach for the National Under-13 & Under-14 teams (Bandar Penawar Sports School). Fittingly, BPSS won the Ministry of Education Under-14 League title in 2009.

This year, FAM have made Khalid as the head coach of the National Under-15 team.

“There is plenty of football talent in the country…just waiting to be polished and given the right polish to groom them into professional footballers. Malaysian football is certainly not dead if you look at the young talent in various tournaments and competitions,” said Khalid.

Khalid Shahdan