Hyderabad: The football fraternity of Hyderabad and India was plunged into deep sorrow this morning when the news broke that Syed Shahid Hakeem who had represented India as a player, then served as coach and referee, passed away in Gulbarga where he was admitted in a hospital following a heart attack yesterday.
His family members who had reached the hospital, received condolence messages from all over India expressing grief at the demise of this eminent personality of the football world.
The 83-year-old Hakeem, who was a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force, is the eldest son of the legendary football coach S A Rahim. In his youth he was a player of outstanding merit. Under his father’s guidance, his talent was able to blossom. He belonged to the golden era of Hyderabad and Indian football and played with some of the greatest names in the sport.
He studied in All Saints High School and then at Nizam college before obtaining his Masters degree from Osmania University. In 1954 he represented Osmania University in the All India inter university football tournament. In the year 1957 he was selected to represent Hyderabad in the national championship for the Santosh trophy. With his teammates, he helped Hyderabad to win the trophy that year by defeating a strong team from Bombay.
Later he got employment in the Indian Air Force and began to represent Services in national level tournaments. He became captain of the Services team in 1965.
Due to his outstanding performances, he was selected to represent India in the Pre Olympic tournament in Jakarta and Malaysia in 1959. Those were the days when the Indian team was ranked among the best in Asia and so India defeated its rivals and qualified to play in the Rome Olympics of 1960. That team had seven players from Hyderabad and Hakeem was one of them.
After retiring from the game as a player he took up refereeing and coaching and achieved excellence in these two spheres also. As a referee he became a member of the FIFA Referees’ Panel and was assigned to officiate in 33 international matches by FIFA. This is still a record since no other Indian referee has officiated in so many international matches.
His international assignments included two Asian Games, three Asian Cups, once in the Merdeka Cup, as well as Preliminary and qualifying rounds of the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. These are prized assignments for referees from all over the world so it was a rare honour for an Indian referee to be selected for these assignments.
In India he was a instructor of referees from 1989 to 1992 and guided more than 100 referees in their careers.
In coaching too he reached the topmost levels. He became a very reputed and well qualified coach. He coached the Indian team in 1980 along with the famous Nikhil Nandy of Bengal. From 1980 to 1982, he coached the Indian team along with P.K. Banerjee and Arun Ghosh for the Merdeka Cup and Delhi Asian Games.
Among the other teams he coached were Indian Air Force, Mohammedan Sporting (Kolkata), Mahindra and Mahindra (Mumbai) and Peerless Club (Kolkata).
From 1962 to 1983 he served the Indian Air Force as a commissioned officer and attained the rank of Squadron Leader. He was the secretary of the Air Force Sports Control Board for six years. However, he later took early retirement from the IAF and joined the National Institute of Sports where he served as Regional Director. He also served as a consultant-cum-advisor on sports matters to the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.
Truly S.S. Hakeem was a man of remarkable achievements. He gained respect and fame among the football fraternity of India and Asia. Today the football world is poorer since it has lost a man who excelled in multiple roles and had great experience in all aspects of the game.