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Former S.League player dies of heart attack while raising funds to save sick son

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Former S-League player Nur Alam Shah has heart attack while raising $120k so his boy, who has rare heart defect, can have surgery

When former S-League footballer Nur Alam Shah's unborn son was diagnosed with a rare heart defect in 2013, he vowed not to let him fall prey to the same condition that claimed his five-month-old daughter in 2008.

But the 38-year-old died of a heart attack on Friday while he was raising money so that his boy, Muhammad Royyan, now four, could undergo surgery.

"He was a very loving father and husband, and this has been really unexpected," Alam Shah's wife, Madam Azean Aziz, 38, told The Straits Times yesterday at the family's three-room flat in Senja Road.

The couple have two other children, aged eight and 14. Alam Shah, who worked as a limousine driver, was the sole breadwinner in the family.

The former Woodlands Wellington player, who played in the S-League (now renamed Singapore Premier League) in the early 2000s, had set a target of raising at least $120,000 at fundraising site As of now, public donations have totalled close to $58,000.

Royyan suffers from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) - a rare heart defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart.

He has already undergone two operations to alleviate the condition, with the first, an open heart surgery, done when he was just 25 days old.

"Even now, you can see that he needs very close attention, but there is nothing much I can do," said Madam Azean.

The housewife says she will now have to find a way to earn an income while caring for the children.

Friends remember Alam Shah as a passionate and resolute man who devoted his time not only to family but also to help young kids.

He started the non-profit Combine Schools Football Club last year with the aim of providing free football coaching to kids.

Former Singapore international Ali Imran Lomri's son was one of many youngsters who benefited from the programme - which caters to about 90 kids between the ages of 12 and 17. The young footballers play on Sundays at West Spring Secondary School near Bukit Panjang.

Ali, 42, who last year joined as a volunteer to run the programme, said: "When I first found out that he was conducting training for children without charging them a single dollar, I was really shocked. Who does that these days?"

Madam Azean said: "He always told me that we cannot just receive help, but instead try to do what we can to help others as well. He was very passionate about football and coaching so he spent his Sundays to coach children without charging anyone. He would even fork out his own money to send the children for tournaments."

Ali hopes Alam Shah's efforts to help Royyan will not be in vain.

"He was a passionate man who tried to help everyone around him, and I hope people will pick up from what he has left to ensure the son can get the treatment he needs," he said.