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 By Paul Murphy

Ex-Malaysia coach and Chelsea defender Allan Harris dies aged 74

Jason Dasey and John Wilkinson discuss the new rule that will make S.League sides more youthful and examine the future of the national team.

Former Malaysia head coach and ex-Chelsea defender Allan Harris has died at the age of 74.

Harris was in charge of Harimau Malaya from 2001 to 2004, a period in which there was a fourth-placed finish in the AFF Cup, and silver and bronze medals at the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games.

While his overall record was modest, there were some memorable results at the 2002 AFF Cup. In romping to first place in their group, the Malaysians dismissed rivals and hosts Singapore 4-0 and also beat Thailand 3-1.

Results such as these seem very distant for a country that just this week slipped to an all-time low of 174 in the FIFA rankings.

Unfortunately, defeats to Indonesia and Vietnam followed to leave them in fourth place.

A poor start to the second round of qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup saw the end of the road for Harris in Malaysia.

Former Malaysia coach Allan Harris in 2001
Allan Harris coached Malaysia between 2001 and 2004, and oversaw them at the 2002 AFF Cup.

Harris' former club Chelsea paid tribute to a man who played more than 100 matches in two spells at the Stamford Bridge side, including an appearance in the 1967 FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.

"Chelsea Football Club is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Allan Harris, our former defender who made over 100 appearances in the 1960s," a Chelsea statement on Twitter said.

The Chelsea website also devoted a full page article on Harris' career. His younger brother Ron 'Chopper' Harris played alongside him for the Blues and paid his own tribute.

"We were very, very close, playing together from when we lived over in Hackney and Allan played for the under-11s district side and I was eight or nine at the time," Harris said.

"One of the reasons I went to Chelsea was that he went there two years before me and then we progressed through, and the highlight was being brothers who played together in an FA Cup final. My mum and dad were really proud and so were me and Allan."

Harris also had close links to Malaysian-owned Queens Park Rangers, first as a player and then as an assistant manager to Terry Venables. Harris worked alongside QPR as they reached the FA Cup final in 1982 and were then promoted to the top tier.

"#QPR are saddened to learn of the passing of former defender and assistant manager, Allan Harris," a club statement on Facebook said.

Harris followed Venables to Barcelona and was his assistant when they won the La Liga title in 1985 and reached the 1986 European Cup final.

The pair then moved on to Spurs before Harris had a very brief stint as manager of La Liga side Espanyol.

He moved to Egypt's Al-Ahly in 1993 and won two league titles in his time there before the move to Malaysia six years later.

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK


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