"No referee in the world can claim to be the best in the world. One can be a good referee when he makes the least number of mistakes."
Mohd Nazri Abdullah, who passed away in Spain last night said this in an interview with The Hindu newspaper in an interview in March 2005. The 54 year old Nazri will be missed by many in the football fraternity.
His cold stare when in a conversation will give many the shivers and I had the pleasure to work with one of the best during my involvement with football. Nazri taught me a lot when it came to carrying out the duties of a match commissioner and I shall be forever grateful to this humble human being who left us suddenly.
It was only last week that we bumped into each other outside PJ Hilton and Nazri showed his concern for me. We discussed about the happenings in Malaysian football, the Kelantan FA issue about the docked points and we promised each other to catch up for tea sometime in the near future. That my friend will now not take place and I was looking forward to picking your brains.
I remember the day when Nazri asked me why Air asia could pump in money to the English Refs and not help out the local cause. "Get me some funds to help the welfare of our match officials please," was what Nazri often asked when we bumped into each other at the various stadiums.
Nazri was a strong candidate from Asia for two World Cup Finals but failed to get past the final hurdle on each occasion leaving him depressed and dejected after 16 years of blowing the whistle.
However, little did Nazri realise that there was still hope and light at the end of the tunnel that he would be at the World Cup in a new role as a referee instructor, in charge of the 23 referees and 33 assistants for the World Cup in Germany.
He worked as a referee’s development officer with FAM for five terms before moving to AFC . He was appointed as an independant member by Sultan Ahmad Shah and made the Chairman of the Referees Committee in 2007.
Nazri had served as a national referee for 16 years (1984-2000), including a FIFA referee for 12 years (1988-2000) and had travelled to more than 70 countries.