Former Harimau Malaya coach, Allan Harris, dies at 74

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PETALING JAYA: Allan Harris, a former coach of the Malaysian national team and defender with Chelsea, has died at the age of 74.

The London club made the announcement in a tribute to Harris on Twitter as well as in an article on the official Chelsea website yesterday.

“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,” the club tweeted yesterday.

Harris had played more than 100 matches in two separate spells for Chelsea across the 60s and 70s. He also made the first team for the Blues when they took on London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the 1967 FA Cup Final.

In Malaysia, Harris managed the national squad from 2001 to 2004.

His time in charge was not a particularly successful period in Malaysian football history with the Harimau Malaya achieving fourth place in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup, besides winning silver and bronze in two successive SEA Games.

Harris’ exit from the national team came about after Malaysia made a poor start in the World Cup 2006 qualifying rounds.

Interestingly, Harris has another indirect link to Malaysia via his history with Queens Park Rangers (QPR), which is owned by Malaysian tycoon and AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes.

QPR too, posted its tribute to Harris, making a statement on its official Facebook page: “#QPR are saddened to learn of the passing of former defender and assistant manager, Allan Harris.”

Besides playing for the London club, Harris later returned as assistant manager to Terry Venables.

The duo were in charge of the second division side in the early 1980s, when QPR finished as FA Cup runners-up in 1982, and won promotion to the then top tier Division One in the 1982-83 season.

The Venables-Harris partnership took QPR to fifth in the league in the following season, and this brought Spanish giants Barcelona to come a-calling.

Harris was part of Venables triumphant coaching team at Barcelona, winning the La Liga title in their first season in charge and even reaching the 1986 European Cup final.

They left Barcelona together in 1987 and returned to England, with Spurs.

As the sole man in charge, Harris started his managerial career at Spanish side Espanyol. He later moved to Egypt’s Al-Ahly in 1993 and won two league titles in his time there before moving to Malaysia.