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Wilfred Skinner puts off retirement for Malaya Cup

With Skinner on board, Singapore secured the final.
With Skinner on board, Singapore secured the final.ST FILE PHOTO

National goalkeeper Wilfred Skinner was in the news this week in 1965 when he agreed to come out of his week-old retirement to play for Singapore again in the Malaya Cup football tournament.

He had retired from competitive soccer only the week before, citing "unsympathetic treatment" from officials at the Singapore Amateur Football Association, the predecessor of the Football Association of Singapore.

This move caused a crisis for the national team, whose other regular goalkeeper, Ahmad Wartam, was still suffering from a knee injury.

With the most important part of the Malaya Cup tournament just ahead, two former national goalkeepers were recalled to the training squad for a tryout, but both were off form.

On July 24, Skinner announced that he had been persuaded by national coach Choo Seng Quee and skipper Lee Kok Seng to play again.

"I have decided to put aside all differences I had with the Singapore selectors," Skinner said.

With Skinner back on board, Singapore went on to win the Malaya Cup that year, beating Selangor 3-1 in the final on July 31.

Skinner, who also represented Singapore in hockey, is widely considered one of the best goalkeepers who ever played for the nation. In a list of Singapore's 50 Greatest Athletes of the Century published in The Straits Times in 1999, he was the only goalkeeper ranked.

He was a policeman for 20 years, before moving to Canada in 1974 with his wife, Moira, and son, Judd James. He worked there as a handyman. In 2003, he died of a heart attack, aged 69.

Jennani Durai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2015, with the headline 'Wilfred Skinner puts off retirement for Malaya Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe