KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Former national football player Serbegeth Singh, who died on Wednesday, was cremated according to Punjabi tradition and customs at the Shamshan Bhoomi Wake Hall in Jalan Loke Yew here today.
His body was taken from the Nirvana Memorial Centre in Taman Nesa Skudai, Johor, at 7.20am and arrived at the crematorium at 11.30 am.
A pall of gloom descended over the crematorium and family members and friends gathered there could not hold back their tears when the funeral rites were conducted according to Punjabi customs and tradition.
Earlier, they had paid their last respects to Serbegeth, who was more fondly known as Shebby Singh and who was the defensive pillar of the Kuala Lumpur and national football teams in the 1980s.
Apart from his wife, Harbans Kaur, who is also a former national sprinter, daughter Natassha Kaur and son Sonuljit Singh, also present to pay their last respects were Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu and Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Also present were his former teammates and colleagues, namely national football legend Datuk Santhokh Singh, former Harimau Malaya coach Dollah Salleh, Melaka United FC coach Zainal Abidin Hassan and former Kuala Lumpur player T. Gopinath Naidu.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Faizal, when met by reporters, said Shebby’s passing was not only mourned by football fans of the previous generation but also by the present crop of supporters, who would clearly miss his views and criticisms regarding the country’s number one sport.
“I visited his family and I am grateful that they remained strong. I am sure they are proud of his achievements,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zainal described Shebby, who was his teammate when they both represented Pahang in 1991 and 1992 as well as the Harimau Malaya, as a big-hearted person and was very dedicated to the game.
“I was shocked to hear of his death because he was a very active person. We would also frequently exchange views on ways to develop the game whenever we got in touch,” he said.
Gopinath, who used to play with Shebby with Kuala Lumpur in 1993 and 1994, described him as the “university of football” for his vast knowledge of the sport, adding that he was proud to have known Shebby, who also shared a lot of tips which helped him develop as a player back then.
On Wednesday, Iskandar Puteri District Police chief Dzulkhairi Mukhtar, when contacted, confirmed that Shebby died while out cycling in Sunway at Iskandar Puteri at about 7.30 pm.
Shebby donned national colours from 1982 to 1991, appearing in three Asian Games – 1982 (Delhi), 1986 (Seoul) and 1990 (Beijing) – besides winning the SEA Games gold medal in the 1989 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
He was also a member of Kuala Lumpur’s golden generation, helping them win a hat-trick of Malaysia Cup titles from 1987 to 1989, besides also featuring for the state teams of Negeri Sembilan and Perak in the 90s.
After calling it a day as a player, he made a name for himself as a television personality from 1997, becoming a football pundit, including on Astro SuperSport, FoxSports and ESPN Asia.
He also served as a global adviser of English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in 2012-2013 and technical adviser for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).