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Coach Hải, a lifetime dedicated to football

Update: January, 19/2021 - 08:23

 

Former coach Lê Thụy Hải will be given the Fair Play Glory award. — Photo toquoc.vn

Football

HÀ NỘI — The 2020 Fair Play Awards will be announced tomorrow in HCM City to honour sportsmanship, honesty and fair play over the last year.

The organising board will give awards to five candidates and former coach Lê Thụy Hải will be given the Fair Play Glory award for his great contribution to Vietnamese football.

Hải is a figure of great standing in Vietnamese football, however, at the age of 75, Hải’s health has been greatly affected by pancreatic cancer for more than four years.

Hải can talk about football all day with his boundless emotion and insight. Football gives him a lot of things and he has been devoted to Vietnamese football throughout his career as a player and coach.

Born in 1946, Hải started his career with the football team of General Department of Railways and played with the team until he retired.

Famous for his skills and strong finishes, Hải didn’t win any North Championships because at that time Thể Công was too strong.

Recalling the past, Hải said his greatest honour was to be with his teammates like Mai Đức Chung, Hoàng Gia and Lê Khắc Chính to go south to compete with Saigon Port in 1976 after the reunification of the country.

"Thể Công were champions at that time and Railways only finished second, but Railways were called the champion team of the workers' teams, so they were allowed to represent the Northern teams to go to Sài Gòn to play," said Hải.

In this historic match, Hải left a strong impression when he had an assist to help striker Chung score the opening goal in the 28th minute before creating a strong shot near the middle of the field in the 54th minute to secure a 2-0 victory for the Railways.

“After the match ended, no one cared about the result. However, we were extremely happy as the Sài Gòn audience stood up and encouraged us warmly. It was an unforgettable memory of my career,” said Hải.

Lê Thụy Hải made many contributions to Vietnamese football. — Photo plo.vn

Special coach

At the age of 60, Hải began coaching in the V.League 1 in 2004 when he led Hà Nội ACB after previously only coaching lower-level teams.

In just 12 years of coaching in the top tier, Hải led Bình Dương to win three V.League 1 titles in 2007, 2018 and 2014. Only coach Chu Đình Nghiêm has equalled this achievement with Hà Nội FC who triumphed in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Hải was likely the only coach in the V. League 1 without an AFC 'A' Coaching Certificate.

“There are those who have the conditions to go to school, they have many degrees, and while everyone was in school, I had to work to earn money,” said Hải.

Later, teams had to register him as technical director to follow the rules, despite the fact that he was still the head coach of the team.

Hải was often hired to coach teams when they were in a relegation battle and regularly staved off the dreaded drop with Bình Dương (in 2006 and 2013), Vissai Ninh Binh (in 2010) and Hải Phòng (in 2012).

The last time he worked was for Thanh Hóa in 2016.

Famous as a personable player, he kept up his loquacious manner as a coach with many statements related to Vietnamese football published by the press and creating many controversies.

Recently, during the Hà Nội Football Festival with the commemorative derby between Thể Công and Hà Nội Police, although Hải was very tired, he still attended the festival with his teammates.

During his treatment for pancreatic cancer, Lê Thụy Hải always has his wife by his side. — Photo saostar.vn

After several decades working as a player and a coach, Hải has won hundreds of matches and now those who love him want him to win one more over fate and disease. VNS

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