Soccer star jumps to his death after row

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am

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One of Hong Kong's most famous soccer players yesterday jumped to his death following an argument with his wife at their home in Tin Shui Wai.

Cheung Sai-ho, 35, was once the city's most valuable player and was the holder of a world record. At the age of 18, Cheung scored for the Hong Kong youth team 2.8 seconds after the start of a match in the Portsmouth Cup in Britain in 1993.

News of his death was announced on the website of Happy Valley Athletic Association Football Club, which Cheung joined from 1996 to 2008 as midfielder and skipper.

In the afternoon, players and spectators observed a minute's silence and gave Cheung a final salute at Yuen Long Stadium before the match between South China and TSW Pegasus kicked off.

Tributes have poured in from sportsmen. 'He was always the leader of the team,' said Pegasus assistant coach Yeung Ching-kwong, who met Cheung 23 years ago. 'I was also there when Cheung scored that quick goal. It was just amazing.'

Former Hong Kong coach Tsang Wai-chung said Cheung was skilful. 'He played an attacking midfield role for the Hong Kong team and always scored,' said Tsang, who coached Cheung from the late 90s to 2006. 'He had good vision with good reading powers of the game. He could have been a good coach. His death is a loss to the soccer community.'

Cheung ran a pub in Tsim Sha Tsui and joined Wing Yee football club after his retirement from the international sport in 2008.

Yesterday, he returned home at about 4am and began arguing with his wife, 29, in their 36th-floor flat of Heng Cheuk House at Tin Heng Estate. Police said the couple argued over their relationship and money.

At about 6am, Cheung jumped out of window from the living room of the flat. A woman security guard, 39, heard a loud bang and found Cheung lying unconscious outside the building. She called the police.

He was declared dead at the scene.

The legendary midfielder is survived by his wife - an air hostess - a two-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.

About a month ago, Cheung and his family moved into the flat and lived with his parents-in-law who could look after his two children, according to the father-in-law.

The club yesterday expressed condolences to his family.

Career highlights

Cheung Sai-ho

Position midfield

1993 Scores world record goal in 2.8 seconds playing for Hong Kong youth team in tournament in Britain

1994-95 South China (1st Div)

1995-96 Frankwell (1st Div)

1996-2008 Happy Valley (1st Div)

2008-2011 Wing Yee (2nd Div)

1995-2007 Makes 56 appearances and scores 8 goals for Hong Kong. Last apprearance during a win over East Timor in a 2010 World Cup qualification tournament

2003 Named Most Valuable Player in Hong Kong