Facts about Mokhtar Dahari a.k.a Super Mokh

Millennials might be familiar with Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia and Nicol David, but we also have a football legend, Mokhtar Dahari, who was a national icon in the 70s. 30 years after his death, the Super Mokh is back in the spotlight, as FIFA recognised him as the 3rd  top men’s scorer in the world in a tweet. Here are 11 Mokhtar Dahari facts you should know.

1. He was so strong that he once broke 3 of a goalkeeper’s fingers with a shot

Football player Mokhtar Dahari
Image credit: Wikipedia

Arguably one of the best Malaysian athletes, Mokhtar Dahari reigned as the top footballer in the 70s. He played for Malaysia mainly as a striker and with his help, the country became one of the best in Asia, defeating teams such as South Korea and Japan, Asia’s football giants. 

Known famously by his nickname, Super Mokh, Mokhtar’s strikes were so powerful that one of them was said to have broken three fingers of a goalkeeper during a practice session.

2. He won the Malaysia Cup 10 times with Selangor FC 

Mokhtar Dahari with trophy
Image credit: Going Places by Malaysia Airlines

With over 30 Malaysia Cups in its possession, Selangor FC is the most successful soccer team in the country and Mokhtar has made a significant contribution to the team’s wins. Throughout his career, he helped the team win the Malaysia Cup 10 times. The first one was in 1972 followed by 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984 and the last one in 1986.

Malaysia Cup or Piala Malaysia is a prestigious recognition for football clubs because it is the oldest cup tournament in Malaysia established in 1921. It is conducted annually by the football association and one of Asia’s longest-running football competitions.

3. He played against Diego Maradona before

Mokhtar Dahari with Maradona
Image credit: u/jonyo_

Perhaps one of the most famous and memorable moments for football fans in Malaysia is when Mokhtar shook hands with the late Diego Maradona or The Golden Boy.

This unforgettable moment happened in January 1982 when the Selangor football team had a friendly match with Boca Juniors, an Argentinian football club headquartered in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

Boca Juniors won the game with 2 goals, while Selangor scored 1. Nevertheless, stills of the two legends in action, meeting each other still paints a vivid picture in fans’ minds.

Mokhtar book cover
A book that commemorates Mokhtar’s football career
Image credit: Retro Bola Sepak

4. He was the first footballer to win Malaysia’s Sportsman of the Year award

Football players
Image credit: Retro Bola Sepak

Another noteworthy accomplishment of Super Mokh has to be the National Sports Awards or Anugerah Sukan Negara he won in 1976. Being the best footballer of his time, he was the first soccer player to be given that award, which was previously mostly won by badminton players.

That same year, he was named the Best Asian Striker by the English football magazine World Soccer. He was also given the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Century Club award in 1999 for representing the country at least 100 times in international tournaments.

He was also named the Player of the Century in The International Federation of Football History & Statistics’ Men Best Players and Goalkeepers of the XXth Century (1901-2000) by Country.

5. He ranked 3rd in FIFA’s top men’s scorers list, outdoing Pele and Messi 

Twitter post
Image credit: @FIFAcom

Mokhtar announced his retirement in 1986, which means that it’s been more than 30 years since his last game. But the legend continues to live through his records and achievements although he is no longer with us.

On Tuesday, 29th June 2021, FIFA updated a list of top scorers on its Twitter account in which Mokhtar was ranked 3rd, with 89 international goals behind Ali Daei and Cristiano who scored 109 goals each.

This is certainly a moment of pride for all of us Malaysians as Mokhtar Dahari was a formidable player because his accomplishments stood through the test of time. He also holds the record of being the all-time top scorer in Selangor with 177 goals in total.

His 89 international goals also make him the top scorer for men’s national teams in Southeast Asia, as well as Asia-Pacific.

6. He died at the age of 37 due to a brain disease

Mokhtar obituary
Mokhtar’s obituary
Image credit: GEGAR

As successful and as popular as he was, Mokhtar Dahari didn’t get to live a long life. This national football icon was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, a condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing muscle deterioration.

Mokhtar battled the disease for 3 years before he passed away at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre on 11th July 1991. It is said that he went to London with his wife, Tengku Zarina Tengku Ibrahim, in search of treatment to cure his condition.

He was buried at the Taman Keramat Permai Muslim Cemetery in Taman Keramat, Ampang, Selangor.

7. He once had an offer to play for Real Madrid

Mokhtar Dahari
Image credit: @NFDPOfficial

Who would have thought a Malaysian footballer would be so incredible and talented that he received an offer from the Spanish club Real Madrid as early as the 90s?

Well, Super Mokh was that guy. This was not known by many people because Mokhtar himself didn’t speak much on the issue. But in a 1995 book titled Giving The Game Away, author Stephen Wagg mentions that Mokhtar declined the offer from Real Madrid when he was asked to play for them possibly due to his loyalty to the Selangor football club and the country.

Mokhtar’s wife did speak about how patriotic and modest he was with a lack of interest in fame in a National Geographic interview in 2010. His humility explains why he is still a much-beloved Malaysian athlete.

8. His would-be 61st birthday was celebrated with a Google Doodle

Mokhtar Google Doodle
Image credit: Google

Although Mokhtar passed away at the age of 37, his birthday was still remembered by many in the world. In 2014, Google featured the football star on its Doodle, which turned out to be a surprise and a moment of pride and nostalgia for Malaysians.

9. He was born in KL

If you are originally from Kuala Lumpur, then you can boast about being born in the same city as Super Mokh. Yes, he’s a KL native, born on 13th November 1953 at Setapak and he is the first child of the late Aminah Sharikan and Dahari Abeng. His father was a lorry driver but didn’t make much money to support his family. So, when Mokhtar was 11, they moved to Kampung Pandan in Kuala Lumpur.

His interest in football came to light when he attended secondary school at Victoria Institution where he started taking part in several competitions.

10. There is a national football academy and a futsal court named after him

Mokhtar academy
Image credit: Majlis Sukan Sekolah Putrajaya

Mokhtar Dahari’s undeniable contributions to the country led to the naming of several remarkable monuments in the country.

The national football academy in Gambang, Pahang was named after him as Mokhtar Dahari National Football Academy or Akademi Bola Sepak Negara Mokhtar Dahari upon its establishment on 10th April 2014.

There is also a futsal court called Mokhtar Dahari Futsal Court or Gelanggang Mokhtar Dahari in Putrajaya. The Shah Alam-Batu Arang Highway or Puncak Alam Highway connecting Shah Alam to Puncak Alam was also renamed Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari in 2014.

11. He had a role in the 1983 Malay movie Mekanik 

Mokhtar Dahari
A still from the movie Mekanik
Image credit: @mubimalaysia

Many people didn’t know that Super Mokh was featured in a movie due to his phenomenal football career. He had a role in the 1983 Malay movie, Mekanik, where he makes an appearance as himself and he can be seen getting summoned by the traffic police in a scene.

The movie tells the story of a bank robbery and how the robbers go on a quest searching for the money that they hid in a taxi driven by a mechanic. The mechanic then finds the money and starts spending it instead.

Facts about football legend Mokhtar Dahari, a.k.a. Super Mokh

Although he passed away at a very young age, Mokhtar Dahari will always and forever be in our memories. Legends like him who have contributed so much to the country and pinned Malaysia on the global map ought to be remembered by everyone including upcoming generations.

We hope stories about his accomplishments and career will continue to be told to younger Malaysians. It’s vital that we cherish a national treasure like him and be inspired by how incredibly successful a person can be in life if they are passionate about what they do.

Read more inspiring stories about Malaysia athletes:

Cover image adapted from: @NFDPOfficial, u/jonyo_ and Retro Bola Sepak

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