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KUALA LUMPUR: NATIONAL hockey player Chua Boon Huat's untimely death has sent shockwaves to not only his teammates, but also the entire hockey loving fraternity in Malaysia.
The 33-year-old midfielder-striker who spotted jersey No 3, died in a motor-vehicle accident at 3am in Kuala Lumpur. His car number was CBH 3350.
Tragically, or some see is as a blessing, Chua met all his teammates and hockey officials including Malaysian Hockey Confederation President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at a breaking of fast function seven hours earlier.
He was his usual jovial self, and could be seen speaking to his teammates, and was also interviewed by this scribe as well as television channels on his Asia Cup aspirations.
National goalkeeper S. Kumar was shattered by the news and said: "Chua is normally a reserved person, but at the breaking fast function, he spoke to me for at least 30 minutes about various matters and this is very unusual of him.
"He also spoke and joked with many people at the function. This is a tragic loss. The news has shattered the entire team," said Kumar.
His teammates were at the University Malaya mortuary early in the morning, and even coach Paul Revington was inconsolable.
Social sites have been on fire paying tribute to the player who made his debut as a 17-year-old in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
Some of his closes buddies like former national skipper S. Kuhan wrote on his Facebook: "Good bye my dear brother. Shattered and broken I am. I will miss you dearly and cherish the good and bad times we experienced together. Till we meet again... We LOVE you!
And another skipper who played longside him in the KL Commonwealth Games Mirnawan Nawawi penned this: "My friend and former teammate in the national hockey team, you are too young to go. Great lost to his family and country. RIP Chua Boon Huat. U'll be missed!
Former National Sports Institute director general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz had this to say on FB: "Extremely sad to hear of the demise of one of our great hockey players, Chua Boon Huat. ..so tragic. I was his team doctor for many years..so friendly and approachable with a ready smile and kind-hearted. We will miss him badly. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Chua, born May 3, 1980 in Malacca, capped 330 times for the country, surpassing the appearances made by Nor Saiful Zaini (325) and his best friend S. Kuhan (327)
He has played at the World Cup, Olympics, Champions Trophy, Asian Games and Asia Cup.
And he also captained the 2001 Junior World Cup side in Hobart.