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Goal looks at the career of former Pahang and Selangor striker Zainal Abidin Hassan, who was crowned the 1996 AFF Cup Most Valuable Player, at the age of 35.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

ZAINAL ABIDIN HASSAN'S DEFINING MOMENTS
SELANGOR DEBUT
APPEARANCES (SELANGOR)
GOALS SCORED (SELANGOR)
LAST GAME FOR SELANGOR
PAHANG DEBUT
APPEARANCES (PAHANG)
GOALS SCORED (PAHANG)
LAST GAME FOR
PAHANG
MALAYSIA DEBUT
APPEARANCES (MALAYSIA)

GOALS SCORED (MALAYSIA)
LAST GAME FOR MALAYSIA
1980
215
125
1999
1983
152
68
1996
1981
138
78
1996
Striker Zainal Abidin Hassan is a household name in Malaysia, having played mostly for Selangor and Pahang alternately since 1980 up to 1999. Switching sides between teams is the nature of the game, but rarely does a player switch back and forth exclusively between two teams, and that is exactly what Zainal has done throughout his playing days.

He started playing in the Selangor senior team in 1980 at the age of 18, and in his first stint for the Red Giants, he scored 21 goals in 41 competitive matches, before he moved to Pahang in 1982. His prowess did not go unnoticed at the national level, and he would go to represent Malaysia at the SEA Games. Records show that he is one of the silver medalists of the 1981 SEA Games football competition. Zainal would go on to be one of the national squad regulars for the country in the subsequent editions of the competition.

The year 1983 saw Zainal don the white and black of Pahang for the first time, and in his one year with the Elephants, he scored thirteen goals and helped them capture the 1983 Malaysia Cup.

He however could not resist the calling of his birth state, and in 1985 he was back at the home stadium of Selangor at the time, the Merdeka Stadium. His ability kept on growing, but it was only in 1986 that he was able to capture the hallowed Malaysia Cup with the Red Giants. 

But it was only in the following year that he would be partnered up in one of the most famous striking partnership in the country's football; with Dollah Salleh when the Melaka-born forward transferred to Selangor from Johor. It was with Dollah that he helped Selangor capture back-to-back Malaysia Cups; in 1989 and 1990.

The domestic success borne on the shoulders of the duo also spilled into the international level, when they helped Malaysia win the football SEA Games gold medal for the first time in ten years; in 1989. The fact that the competition was hosted by Malaysia also cemented their reputation further.

So succesful were they, that when Zainal once again moved to Pahang in 1991, Dollah followed suit to spearhead the attacks of the Dream Team of 1992. The duo would play for Pahang until 1996, capturing the 1992 Malaysia Cup and Division 1 title; and the 1995 Division 1 championship, and scoring 131 goals between the two of them.

He also featured for Malaysia in the inaugural AFF Cup (then called the Tiger Cup) in 1996, leading the Malayan Tigers to the final before losing to Thailand 1-0. He also emerged as the tournament's MVP, at the age of 35. He soon retired from international football, although he would return for a final hurrah with Selangor in 1997 (minus Dollah), and played for them until his club football retirement in 1999.

He then swapped his football boots for futsal shoes for awhile, to help the then fledgling Malaysia futsal team, although he would then take up managerial and coaching positions with several teams such as the Under 17 national team, and Shahzan Muda. He then reunited with Dollah Salleh at Pahang in 2011, with Dollah as the head coach and he as the team manager. These days he also runs a restaurant that is situated within walking distance from the Shah Alam Stadium, the same place he plied his trade towards the end of his playing career.

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