* The real ‘Harimau Malaya’ passed away at age 92

* Dollah Don was a much feared striker in Asia in the 40s and 50s

* Dollah was equally good in athletics

He was the real “Harimau Malaya” – a nickname given to him by the late Indonesia president Soekarno after watching him score a hattrick to force a 3-3 draw from 3-0 down at halftime in a friendly match against Indonesian football giants Persija FC in Jakarta in 1953.

Born Abdullah Mohd Don on 23 March 1923 in Stulang Laut, Johor Bahru but better known as Dollah Don, passed away at the Puteri Specialist Hospital, Johor Bahru at 4am today (Wednesday) due to old age. He was buried at the Jalan Mahmoodiah Muslim Cemetery at noon.

The nickname of “Harimau Malaya” was a rare individual honour given to Dollah for his football skills and scoring prowess. The Chinese had difficulty in pronouncing his name and simply called him “Toh Ah Ton” and he became a household name in Hong Kong and China.

It was not just Hong and China but Dollah Don was also a household name in Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. In short, everywhere he played Dollah Don left his mark with his football skills and scoring goals.

One incident stands out in 1946…which Dollah Don revealed personally during an interview.

It happened in Medan, Sumatra. Dollah Don was down to play in a friendly match in the Indonesian city and a huge crowd had turned up at the stadium but he fell sick before the match could take place.

The crowd became unruly and chaos reigned when it was announced that Dollah Don would not be playing and demanded that their money be returned.

The organisers finally bowed down to the demand of the fans and refunded the money. The match was played but in an empty stadium. The fans who had turned up to watch Dollah Don play had returned home in frustration.

Dollah Don studied at the Ngee Heng Primary School in Johor Bahru and later at the Bukit Zaharah School. For his secondary education he studied at the famous English College, now known  as Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar – well known for producing leaders and sportsmen in the country, including former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam.

Former national football manager Datuk Suleiman Mohd Noor described him as “a legend” who was a born footballer.

“He was simply a delight to watch when he played. His exploits on the field were second to none and the old-timers and veterans will remember for what he was as a footballer,” said Suleiman, who was also a vice-president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Johor FA deputy president.

Former international ‘Prof’ Nasir Yusof, once described by former Johor coach Michael Urukalo as the “best football brains” in the country said:

 “I never saw him play but watched videos and read about Dollah Don and can describe him as a football legend. I met him during the get together of former Johor greats and will remember him for giving us tips on the finer points of football.

“Today the national team is called Harimau Malaya but he got the nickname as an individual from Soekarno…and it is a great honour for him.”

Apart from playing for the national team Dollah Don also turned out for Malayan Malays, Malayan Chinese, Singapore Malays, Singapore Chinese, Perak XI, Perak Chinese and Johor.

Not many are aware that Dollah Don was also a gifted athlete. He was the Johor – winning the 100yards, 200, 440, long jump and high jump at the first Johor Athletics championships in 1949.

Dollah Don left his mark. You will be remembered for your contributions.


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