Former national hockey player S. Balasingam who died on Saturday, was a reserved man who did most of his talking on the pitch.
Datuk Poon Fook Loke said he only got to know him well about 10 years ago, despite being teammates for countless international tournaments, including the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
“He did his talking on the pitch. He was one of the best left-halves of his era,” said Fook Loke.
Fook Loke added: “He was a super player on the pitch, but often kept to himself after training or matches.
“I never knew my teammate until about 10 years ago at the Royal Selangor Club (RSC).
“We went for an RSC tour of Beijing, and that was when he opened up and I finally got to know his other side.”
Balasingam died on Saturday following a battle with colon cancer. He was 73.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order, his cremation was a private affair, attended by family members, at the Puchong Crematorium yesterday.
“It’s really sad that we could not go to his funeral because of the current situation.
“He was a determined player. He overcame a fractured finger and fought hard to make the World Cup team,” said 1975 skipper Datuk Seri N. Sri Shanmuganathan.
He picked up the injury in a friendly against Britain in January, 1975.
“All of us thought his World Cup was over as the tournament was in March (1-15) but he kept on training even after we returned from Europe, and was selected on merit,” said Shan.
The Ipoh-born was only 21 years old when he made his international debut at the 1968 International Hockey Tournament in Lahore, Pakistan.
He went on to play at the 1972 Munich and 1978 Montreal Olympics as well as the 1973 World Cup in Amsterdam.
“It was at the 1972 Olympics that he proved his mettle.
“Against Germany, Balasingam kept his marker in check and never allowed them to attack from the left.
“In the end, we lost 1-0 and did not qualify for the semi-finals,” said Shan.