Many articles have been written about Wu Kwok Hung in the past few weeks, but few of them talked about more than just facts and figures. In the days after the sad news of his passing, offside.hk reached out to Jim Liddell, who used to be goalkeeper for Hong Kong Rangers during the 1970s and met Wu on the pitch on several occasions. We are very grateful to Liddell for sharing some of his personal memories with us.
How would you describe Wu as a football player?
To me Wu Kowk Hung was an enigmatic player. When he was on form he was unplayable, yet sometimes he seemed to lack enthusiasm in some games. His skill on the ball was incredible and could match anything I have ever seen in football to this day. He was never a player to make 50/60 yard lung bursting runs, but he had great vision that carried him through games along with his skill set that made him outstanding. I know his nickname was “Bighead” but I would call it self belief in his own ability. When I first went to Hong Kong, I played Chung Chi Doy in the twilight of his career (Editor’s note: Chung Chi Doy was another local football legend and the first ethnic Chinese to play in the English top division). He was held in high regard with the fans, due mainly I suspect due to his time at Blackpool F.C. Chi Doy had great vision to pick out great passes but lacked the skill and trickery of Wu Kwok Hung. In my opinion Wu was above any local players as far as skill was concerned. Other locals had different attributes that Wu did not possess such as speed, high work rate, leadership, and such like, but he had a quality that we all admired in that he could change a game with one stroke of genius, and create a goal out of nothing.
Have you ever met Wu in person? Are there any particular memories that come to your mind?
I never met the man other than on the pitch, but knew other guys that played alongside him who said he was a quiet guy and never spoke much English. Allegedely, he was also not a big fan of hard training sessions…
At Rangers we used to try and man-mark him out of games, a hard task for any player. The player we allocated the task to was our little mid-fielder Wong Chin Kin, and the wee fella did a great job in what was a very difficult role. Last time I played against him he scored a goal that would win any goal of the season competition: a 20+ yard volley. I first caught sight of the ball when it rebounded off the net and passed me on the way out. That was the measure of the guy. He could create great things and the fans were motivated by this. Chow Chee Keong, another great of Hong Kong football, and myself were having coffee one day and had an at length discussion about how as goalkeepers Wu was so difficult to play against due to his unpredictability. We both agreed that to expect the unexpected when playing against him.
What do you think is Wu’s legacy for Hong Kong football?
Hong Kong has lost a great former player and entertainer who will rightfully take his place alongside other greats in any team in the next world. I sincerely hope Hong Kong football give him a good send off as his contribution to the game was immense.
Related offside.hk article: Hong Kong Legend: The Life of Wu Kwok Hung (1949-2015)