Diamond of Asia: Tan Sri Hamzah
Kuala Lumpur: Asian football's highest individual accolade - the Diamond of Asia - has been awarded posthumously to former AFC President Datuk Seri Setia Raja Tan Sri Hamzah Haji Abu Samah.
One of Asian football's towering heroes, Tan Sri Hamzah passed away in September 2012 at the age of 88, leaving behind a priceless legacy of leadership, vision and determination.
The Malaysian was the longest serving AFC President in charge of AFC from 1978 until 1994 as his tenure at the helm of AFC was marked by strong growth and success of the confederation. Relations with FIFA also improved during his reign as Tan Sri Hamzah, a FIFA Vice-President for eight years from 1982 until 1990, put his diplomatic skills to good use.
After receiving the posthumous award, Tan Sri Hamzah became the third Malaysian to join the exclusive club of Diamond of Asia Award recipients after the previous two honours were bestowed upon Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak and the current Sultan of Pahang Sultan His Majesty Sulatn Haji Ahmed Shah.
The late Tan Sri Hamzah's wife, Toh Puan Zinon Binti Dato' Hussain received the award from AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong.
Tan Sri Hamzah is the eighth recipient of the elite accolade after Saburo Kawabuchi (2005), Joseph S Blatter (2006), Lennart Johannson (2007), Ken Naganuma (posthumously; 2008), General Farouk Bouzo (2009), Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak (2010) and HM Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (2011).
The Diamond of Asia may be conferred for a single contribution of great importance or for ongoing contributions over a number of years and is a way for the AFC to acknowledge the recipient's sterling services. The award is given annually and always to one person, selected each year by the AFC Executive Committee.