Work Hard Play Hard: Five Malaysian players who started food businesses

A trend has emerged among some of the current footballers in Malaysia as the likes of Safiq Rahim, Safee Sali and Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak have all opened up restaurants. FourFourTwo looks at five former internationals that made a similar move some years ago.

HAIRUDDIN OMAR

Hairuddin has been the perfect role model for young footballers. On the pitch, he gave his all, showing leadership qualities that only a handful could rival.

It has been a successful journey despite striker still involved in the game as a player and coach

Off the pitch, he has been a vocal as president of the Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia (PFAM). He is also a successful entrepreneur.

Hairuddin came up with an idea to start a food business with two family members in 2011 and it has been a successful journey despite striker still involved in the game as a player (until 2016) and now a coach with the Malaysia Under-19 squad.

Adeqsue, the name of the brand, started as a shop specialising in grilled fish in Kuala Terengganu and has now expanded to selling cooking condiments such as paste and sauces.

ONG KIM SWEE

The former Malaysia coach, who is now back with the Malaysia Under-22 squad, has more to offer than mere coaching.

A popular figure in his hometown Melaka, Ong has a restaurant called Banya serving Peranakan Cuisine. The style of cooking is from the Baba Nyonya heritage and is popular in the state due its history.

Ong, who played for Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak and the national team in the 1990s, lives in Kuala Lumpur due to commitments with Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) but don’t be surprised to see him at the restaurant when he is back in Melaka during his time off.

ZAINAL ABIDIN HASSAN

Zainal needs not much introduction. He was a legend during his prime, winning multiple trophies, accolades and scoring plenty of goals.

His restaurant, opened after his career ended 1999, was at one time as popular with the Shah Alam folks as he was during his days donning the Selangor jersey. Called Lagenda 17 because of his legend status and favourite jersey number, the shop was located close to Shah Alam Stadium – the home of Red Giants.

Photo: Utusan

The restaurant, which served a signature Hainanese Chicken Rice, saw its last customer a couple of years ago but those that have visited it will remember the nostalgia walking into the restaurant brought, as it was filled with memorabilia from Zainal’s playing career.