S.League Golden Boys: The fiery Ah Long and rise of the foreigners, 2002-2006

In the early 2000s, the S.League was still churning out quality youngsters, but they started to face competition from some equally young foreign talents… 

THE PRODIGIOUS BUT FIERY TALENT: Noh Alam Shah (2002)

When Noh Alam Shah began his career as an under-16 trainee at Woodlands Wellington, little attention was paid to him as fellow strikers and previous S.League Young Players of the Year winners Ahmad Latiff and Indra Sahdan were hogging the headlines with their scoring exploits.

Even when the striker known as ‘Ah Long’ moved to Sembawang Rangers in 1998 and subsequently Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC, now known as Warriors FC) during his national service, his achievements were still overshadowed by the aforementioned duo.

However, his fortunes picked up after he completed his national service obligations, as he made a return to Sembawang and subsequently scored 19 goals in 47 games across two seasons.

His raw power and eye for goal would also land him the coveted Young Player gong in 2002, before Tampines Rovers came calling and Alam Shah went on to become a prolific scorer for both club and nation.

The striker not only landed two S.League titles with the Stags in 2004 and 2005, a trial with Notts County even materialised in 2005, after Alam Shah recorded 14 goals in 15 games to capture the interest of the English side.

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He may have left the game but many still remember his name

Things on the international front also went in Alam Shah’s favour, as he led the Lions to Suzuki Cup triumphs in 2004 and 2007. A seven-goal haul against Laos still stands as the record scored by a single player in a match at the competition and also contributed greatly to Noh Alam Shah’s record overall tally of 17 AFF goals.

However, it could be argued that things began to go pear-shaped thereafter, beginning with a seven-month ban (initially a 12-month ban) that came at the end of the 2007 season after Alam Shah lashed out at Daniel Bennett in the Singapore Cup final. His belligerent behaviour would stick with him in the years to come — a result of his desire to win at all costs, Ah Long would tell the media.

Towards the end of his career, Alam Shah rejoined Tampines but played a mainly peripheral role and decided to call it quits after two seasons.

Like many others during 2009, Ah Long too plied his trade in Indonesia, but not before he unleashed a condemning statement on the state of Singapore football and why it influenced him to seek greener pastures abroad.

His time in Indonesia yielded an Indonesian Super League title, although he would be surrounded in more controversies involving altercations with other players there, before leaving in 2012 due to a salary dispute.

Towards the end of his career, Alam Shah rejoined Tampines but played a mainly peripheral role and decided to call it quits after two seasons.

Sadly, he would leave the game in ignominious fashion by igniting memories of yesteryear when he lashed out at a Harimau Muda player after receiving a red card in his last ever match.

The former Singapore hitman man who scored 35 goals in 80 appearances is now working in Komoco Motors' rental division.

(Next: THE TOWER: Baihakki Khaizan 2003)

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