Lim Fong Kee takes a step back, his face contorted with anger, and exclaims: 'You know kids these days? They are so spoilt. They have everything!' Lim is talking about up and coming footballers in Hong Kong. He thinks they have it easier these days - certainly easier than when he was trying to break into the Malaysian national team more than 30 years ago. The former goalkeeper knows about hardship, hard work and discipline. These virtues helped him succeed in soccer and he believes they are missing in Hong Kong soccer. But not for much longer - as his new charges at Happy Valley are about to find out. Lim - appointed team manager of the First Division champions in June - yearns for a return to the glory days when the love of the game was pure and simple. No excuses. No whining. You give your best all the time whether in training or in competition. He admits it will be tough trying to change the old habits of seasoned professionals who have grown used to the 'easy life' of a Hong Kong player but Lim, who graced the Hong Kong First Division with Seiko in the 1970s and '80s, thinks he can make a difference. 'When I played for Seiko during those days, we always had morning training sessions,' he recalls. 'This is one of the things I want to see the club return to because we are professionals, after all. I want to see the players stay away from late-night activities.' When Lim was first making a name for himself in the Malaysian national squad, football - and life itself - was more simple. There were fewer distractions. Playing was the most important thing. Playing hard was always the case. There were no computers, MP3 players, karaokes, Cable TV or Game Boys. The 'Predator' boot was years away from being developed and overseas training stints were far and few between. As a boy growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Lim knew he wanted to become a professional footballer and he dedicated his life to his dream. When he thinks about those days, it is easy for him to be critical of the next generation. And it is hard not to agree with him. 'My father didn't like me playing football when I was a youngster,' he remembers. 'I would hide the ball at home so he wouldn't find out that I had played. We were so poor that I had to share my boots with my brother. We didn't even have studs in our boots. We had to make them. It was that bad. 'When my father found out I had played football, he would give me one across the head and say, 'Concentrate on your studies! Quit horsing around'.' But Lim didn't listen and continued to do what he thought he was good at. And it turned out that he was very good. By 17, he had already represented his country at senior level and three years into his professional career, he enjoyed one of the highlights of his career. He played in the Munich Olympics - the opening match of the 1972 Games against West Germany - probably the greatest German Olympic team ever assembled. Malaysia had managed to qualify for the Olympics and before the match the team - considered no hopers in the tournament - were invited into the West German dressing room to 'observe and learn'. 'The room was all quiet. Nobody said a word,' recalls Lim of that strange encounter in the Munich Olympic Stadium. 'This was before the game. I just saw people in deep thinking. There was Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Muller and the rest of the German outfit. They were all thinking about the game. It was all concentration. From that day on, I understood the word professionalism.' So it was West Germany - who won the World Cup in the same stadium two years later - who took on Malaysia in the tournament's opening match. 'They thought it was going to be an easy match. But by half-time, they were getting worried because we were managing to hold them to a goalless draw. But by the end of the match, their class shone through and they won 3-0. I think Uli Hoeness scored two goals. I can't remember who scored the other one, but it was a great experience for me and one I shall never forget.' But Lim has many other fond memories, both for Malaysia and for his beloved Seiko, the most successful team in the Hong Kong First Division during the 1970s and early '80s. Lim was a Seiko regular who won a haul of trophies for the club that folded in 1986. He was spotted by Seiko, who signed him in 1974 after impressing scouts with a near-flawless performance for a Malaysian Chinese team in the now-defunct Aw Hoe Cup. He recalls the skills of fellow Malaysian Khoo Liem Khen, who would follow him in setting up base in Hong Kong. Lim describes Khoo - who went on to coach Instant-Dict and the Hong Kong national team - as a 'gifted player' who never got the credit he deserved. 'He was a wonderful fullback. Astute, quick and steady at the back. He was just an excellent all-round player. It was a pleasure to play alongside him.' He remembers Scottish forward Derek Currie - still living in Hong Kong and a senior figure in Hong Kong's sports fraternity - from the heady days and recalls at least half a dozen other players who graced a competitive and entertaining First Division. 'Wu Kwok-hung was a very skilful midfielder, possibly the best ever in Hong Kong and the best in Asia at the time,' he says. 'There was also Chan Siu-kei who had immense talent as well. 'Even back home, we had a centre-half by the name of Soh Chin. He was easily the best player in Malaysia at the time. He was so good that he was given offers to play for big clubs in Europe. But he was a Malacca boy and he turned down those offers to stay at home. We didn't get to see how good he really was.' Lim remembers many of the matches he played for Seiko - he stayed until the club's demise in 1986 - but one game really stands out: an FA Cup semi-final against another now-defunct team, Caroline Hill, in the mid-70s. 'The match ended in a goalless draw and it went to a penalty shootout. I remember I kept a few shots out and we won 5-4 on penalties.' Lim starts the new campaign this month looking forward to the rigours of managing a team for the first time. Perhaps his players can learn a thing or two from him and Hong Kong football, even if it can't return to the old days, will at least improve. Maybe, for Lim, Hong Kong soccer in the year 2001 won't be so bad after all.