Legendary sports writer, journalist, statistician, enthusiast, promoter, and PFF Media Manager, Syed Akber Ali Wahidi was found dead in his hotel room in Faisalabad this morning on Monday, 25 April 2011 at 9 AM. He was 53 years old, with cause of death determined as cardiac arrest suffered during his sleep.
The late Akber Wahidi was in Faisalabad to cover the final games of the 21st NBP National Football Challenge Cup 2011 on special invite of tournament organiser Rai Saif ur Rehman Bhatti. He had just enjoyed the nail-biting semi-final between KRL and Army at Bohranwali Ground on 24 April 2011 and was in good spirits. But his passing away just 8 hours after the end of the game in his hotel room has broken many hearts across Pakistan.
His body will be brought by air from Faisalabad to his native city of Karachi for burial later today. He leaves behind a widow, young son Ahmed Wahidi, mother, sister, and brother as mourners.
Akber Wahidi was famed for his sharp memory and enthusiasm for compiling statistics, records, history, and trivia related to both football and field hockey. He was often called the Walking Encyclopedia of Football. So much was his knowledge about the beautiful game, that even the football authorities around the world had to stand up and notice his remarkable memory and enthusiasm for the game.
In 2003, he acheived considerable fame when he wrote to FIFA and asked them to correct their record books for fastest goals scored from kick-off in a FIFA World Cup match. He pointed out that Václav Mašek of Czechoslovakia should be in second place for fastest goalscorer when he scored after just 16 seconds against Mexico in 1962 World Cup, rather than FIFA’s then-second placed record holder Bryan Robson of England who scored after 27 seconds against France in 1982 World Cup. The fastest goal scored was by Turkey’s legendary captain Hakan Şükür after just 11 seconds against South Korea in 3rd/4th place play-off in 2002 World Cup.
FIFA was surprised at this information and immediately acknowledged their mistake and sent Akber Wahidi an honorary letter thanking for his contribution and knowledge. In 2010, he was sent a special ticket by FIFA to vist and cover a match in the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa on FIFA’s own expenses. He stated later that visiting and watching a FIFA World Cup game inside a stadium live was his dream come true.
Born on 7 August 1957, the late Akber Wahidi completed his BA in Civil Engineering from Karachi’s renowned NED University of Engineering & Technology as a youth, but decided not to pursue a career in Civil Engineering and instead focused on writing about his one true love: football.
From 1974, Akber Wahidi was involved in football & sports journalism and wrote fluently in both Urdu and English news articles. He first became renowned when he began writing exclusively for Urdu magazine ‘Khel ki Dunya’ that was owned by late sports journalist and Wahidi sahib’s own mentor Alauddin Ghauri. Akber Wahidi would interview and profile the various football players and football teams across Karachi and rest of Pakistan, and showed immense dedication to his passion that won him many fans across Pakistan’s football fraternity and sports journalism circles.
In 1992, Akber Wahidi became personally affiliated with the National Football Championship which was sponsored by Lifebuoy Soap for the first time Pakistani football history. As media in-charge for the tournament, Akber Wahidi’s unprecedented coverage of the event brought the national media to take strong notice of almost every game and every result that was witnessed throughout Pakistan.
Eventually, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) took notice of Akber Wahidi’s tremendous knowledge, writing skills, and experience and made him Media Manager in 2004; a post he kept with full honour and committment till his shocking demise today.
A simple man, he did not let his fame as a sports journalist affect his humbleness and modesty throughout his life. He was offered a better pay to become Media Manager of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) many times but he flatly refused each time to give up his love and loyalty towards football.
He also won many admirers across the South Asian region with many sports journalists from Nepal, India, Bangladesh etc regarding him as one of their own. Akber Wahidi was also Executive Editor of the now defunct Karach-based Urdu-language football gazette ‘Monthly Football Magazine’ where he worked with his close friend and protégé Riaz Ahmed
Akber Wahidi also had a very close and personal friendship with FootballPakistan.Com (FPDC) since 2001. He got in touch with a young Malik Riaz Hai Naveed and supported the fellow’s dream of giving Pakistani football a voice on the internet media which would evolve into FootballPakistan.Com (FPDC) in 2003. Akber Wahidi was always enthusiastic about supporting FPDC and provided its growing staffers with up-to-date Pakistani football news, statistics, reports, histories, content etc for almost 10 years without a pause. The FPDC team regarded him as one of their own because of his dedication to football and willingness to let the world read about it.
His death has given Pakistani football journalism and media involvement a huge blow because no one can be as enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and eloquent as Akber Wahidi was throughout his life.
The PFF Officials expressed immense sadness and shock regarding Akber Wahidi’s sudden demise. PFF President Mahdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, General Secretary Col (Retd) Ahmedyar Khan Lodhi, Director Operations Wing Commander (Retd) Pervez Saeed Mir et al. fondly recalled his enthusiasm for the beautiful game and prayed for the departed soul and his grieving family.
Others wishing their prayers and dedications to the late Akber Wahidi include sports journalist Riaz Ahmed, FPDC Webmaster Malik Riaz Hai Naveed, FPDC Chief Editor Ali Ahsan, FPDC editor Gauhar Mahmood Azeem, FPDC staffers M. Shahnawaz and Zaka Ahmed Gondal, PMC Athletico Faisalabad President Saif ur Rehman Bhatti, PMC Athletico Media Manager Waheed Nagra, former PFF officials M. Muslim Butt and Faisal Amir Khan, SSGC head coach Nasim Ahmed, Sindh FA chairman Ghulam Abbas Baloch, senior vice chairman Syed Khadim Ali Shah, national coach Tariq Lutfi, Karachi Zone West FA chairman Zafar Iqbal, secretary Rahim Bakhsh, Karachi Malir FA chairman Fateh Muhammad Baloch, secretary Shahid Taj, Karachi Zone South FA chairman Gulab Baloch, secretary Jan Muhammad, Murad Bakhsh, Karachi Zone East FA chairman Abdul Malik Khan, secretary Ubaid Ullah, Karachi Zone Central FA chairman Aqeel Tazeem Naqvi, secretary Asif Zaheer, member Abdul Karim, former international Saleem Patni, Karachi United FC director Taha Alizai, National Soccer Academy chairman Arshad Jamal, senior vice chairman Asif Khan, Khalid Majeed, Saleem Arif, Syed Usman Shah, Usman Baloch, Master Riasat Ali, Mirza Anees Baig, Rasheed Khan, Karim Bakhsh Chandio, et al.
May the departed hero of Pakistani football rest in peace, and may the grieving family have the patience and resolve to overcome the passing away of their beloved one.
A short biography by Riaz Ahmed and Ali Ahsan about the life of Syed Akber Ali Wahidi, the late PFF Media Manager and football enthusiast who was found dead in his hotel room in Faisalabad this morning.