GEORGE TOWN: Ali Bakar smiles at you from one end of the wall. At the other end, Namat Abdullah frowns, with his signature thick moustache. There’s also midfield dynamo Shukor Salleh, all set in his football jersey.
The football legends of Penang are back at the City Stadium, this time as part of a series of murals.
The murals, paying homage to famous Penang footballers are coming up on the walls of the stadium and they are all the buzz among locals.
Many just stop in their tracks to take a look, recalling the moments when the Keramat Roar rang loud with these legendary players making the state and country proud.
Six murals of famous players – Ali, Namat, M Kuppan, Shukor Salleh, FIFA Puskas award winner Faiz Subri, and Pang Siang Hock (of the famed Pang brothers) – are being drawn on the walls of the stadium near the Perak Road entrance.
The man behind the murals is artist Mohd Azmi Mohd Hussin who has been drawing the portraits since Monday. He is expected to complete his work by Friday. He was commissioned by the city council to do so.
Azmi, a despatch rider-slash-auxiliary policeman turned artist since 2010, said it was high time that these great players be given recognition so the youths of today remember who they are.
“When the late Diego Maradona died, I noticed European and Argentinian towns painting murals of him.
“I then asked the city council, why not paint our own football greats on our stadium walls, they are blank anyway. They agreed, and here I am,” he said.
As he drew the portrait of the late Namat Abdullah, who succumbed to cancer recently, many old-timers who remember him stopped to say thanks to Azmi for drawing him.
One of them was retired civil servant Ali Akbar Latiff, 65, who remembers watching all the home games of the football greats.
He said the murals are a welcome addition to the barren walls of the stadium and a reminder of the good old days when Penang was a football powerhouse in the country,
Azmi spends two hours on each mural and at the time of writing, has completed four murals so far and expects to complete all by Friday. He is well-known for drawing caricatures speedily and in different mediums.
The Butterworth native was inducted into the Malaysia Book of Records for the most caricatures drawn in 24 hours in 2017. He drew over 250 portraits then. Later, he got into the same record book after he drew a 101-metre drawing using coffee beans last year.
Azmi, 36, is inspired by editorial cartoonist Mohammad Nor Mohammad Khalid or “Lat”. Azmi is proud that Lat launched his first book, the “Tanjong Life”. He also has two other books under his name: “The Little Mamak” and “Lost in Bagan”.
“I want to draw old film stars such as P Ramlee, Saloma Ismail and Noordin Ahmad at P Ramlee’s birth house at Caunter Hall Road, given a chance,” he said of his next plan.