SINGAPORE - Former national footballer Arshad Khamis, the man who scored the first-ever goal at the old National Stadium, died at his home in Canada on Thursday (Oct 11). He was 68. While the cause of his death is still undetermined, he had heart problems in the past.
Arshad was a member of the Singapore side that won the Malaysia Cup in 1977 and 1980, and also played for the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association, Geylang International and the Singapore Malays.
It was for the latter that he scored the opening goal in a 4-1 win over the Kelantan Malays at the National Stadium in June 1973. It was the first football match ever to be played at the venue, which was opened officially only a month later.
He also famously scored in a friendly the Lions played against a Franz Beckenbauer-led New York Cosmos side in October 1979, although the American side won 4-1.
In 1992, he emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a technician.
Former teammate Samad Allapitchay recalled Arshad as a powerful player who was also friendly.
"He was a good, strong striker but, when people hit him hard with tackles, he would never retaliate," said Samad, the skipper of the 1977 Malaysia Cup side.
"In truth, he could throw them around easily because he was a judo champion when we were serving national service.
"But, even after receiving bad challenges, he would just get up and smile. That was how he was, on and off the field."
A Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman said: "The FAS is saddened by the passing of Singapore football icon Arshad Khamis.
"Mr Arshad represented Singapore in 1970s and 1980s, playing for the late Uncle Choo Seng Quee and Jita Singh.
"He was a prolific striker in his heyday, playing alongside the late Dollah Kassim and Samad Allapitchay, and inspired generations of footballers."
Arshad is survived by his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.
A minute's silence was observed before the kick-off of Friday's international friendly between Singapore and Mongolia at Bishan Stadium, which the Lions won 2-0.