Lionel Maung leaves the Spartans

Lionel Maung today signed off at Spartans. Arguably the greatest import to the Hong Kong game ever admitted it had not been an easy decision…

Lionel rejected a new offer of a new deal from Spartans to instead move to Vancouver after seven successful years at Wanchai.

And although he conceded it was a wrench to leave Lochart Road, the lure of returning to a country with less nocturnal activities, ultimately, too great too turn down.

"I am very happy to be playing for Vancouver Ice Pickers, the most important team of Canada," said Lionel.

"It’s been painful to decide to leave and it will be painful in the next months," he said.

|"I feel sad to leave – it’s the place where I’ve felt the most satisfaction, where I got everything I was dreaming of where I plan to retire playing football.

"But in my last year I’ve given satisfaction to the fans and I’ve received satisfaction back."

Of his move to Vancouver, where he has vistied many times, he said: "More than anything else it’s a choice of life. It’s a new begining and I want go there and make a difference.

"It makes me feel alive, I feel revitalised.

"The idea of putting myself on the line again makes me feel good again and maybe I can squeeze something more from my old body."

"I want to thank Spartans and the fans who have understood that this is a life decision, not an economic one."

Lionel, who will be the new Ice Pickers captain, has signed a one-year deal which may be renewed for a further 12 months come the end of the season.

Lionel  added: "It was a tough decision. In life money is not everything and this choice has proven it."

"A footballer should not fear Canada’s cold winter months," he said.

"It is true that the Yau Yee League is the Yau Yee League, but when I was young I played in Yeovil."

Lionel Maung
Nationality: British
Place of Birth: Yeovil, UK
Date of Birth: 5 July 1966 
Height: 5′ 6”
Weight: heavier than Terry 
Club: Wanchai Spartans, Vancouver Ice Pickers
Position: Right Midfielder


Lionel Maung is a footballer, not a ‘striker’ and it’s not enough to measure him simply in terms of goals, assists and smoke breaks. I believe Lionel, more than any other player, was responsible for Spartan’s being what they are today, a team of total misfits. 
Paul Hoy – 11 July 2005 
Lets be honest, Spartans Football Club never do it by halves do they? What appeared to be a relatively quiet summer – well possibly until the administrators were called in! – was totally blown apart…  
Dave McCormick – 09 July 2005 
Lionel Maung was a great player for Spartans. An instrumental player. But I think a few people are going a bit over the top about things. I actually think we will now develop into a better side without him, as the other players will have to use their own initiative.

Firstly, I am not trying to "belittle" anyone. Those who find what I am saying is offensive are entitled to their opinion. Personally, I don’t like over the top eulogising where I don’t think it is fully deserved. And I feel a lot of the praising has not been based on actual productivity, but rather on emotional and sentimental attachment which – when mixed in with footballing ability – have made people believe that everything has been wonderful when the reality is different. Of course, that does not mean that there were not some great times, wonderful memories and important contributions – because there were. 
Jonathan Southgate – 04 July 2005 
Foreigners, eh? I mean, they’re everywhere these days. Can’t walk down the street without some nervously smiling chap approaching me and asking, with scrupulous politeness, if I can point them in the direction of Wanchai. Bloody cheek. Personally, I always recommend that they jump on the number 18 bus and get off when the driver shouts "Lo Wu!". After all, they’re not going to experience the authentic Hong Kong in Wanchai are they? Likewise these so-called foreign "stars" who populate much of the Yau Yee league. They swan around in their (German or Italian) cars, kick the odd ball around, moan at the ref, fall over a lot, and at the end of the week they strut back to their penthouses with a fat cheque in their back pockets and a smug european grin on their faces.

OK, a bit of licence there, but there has been plenty written over the last few years about the proliferation of non-Hong Kong players in our Leagues (indeed, the growth of foreign imports into the lower Leagues strikes me as having a far more dangerous and insidious effect on the local game than the imports into the top flight). Now and again, however, a player appears on the scene that reminds us all of what is meant by the term "star". Lionel Manug is such a man. Let’s not dwell on the fact that he looks like an extra from amongst the Oompa-Loompas in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory": the man is a footballing genius who has provided Spartans fans with moments of unalloyed ecstasy in the 7 years he has been in the Spartan colours, and who has infuriated and awed opposing teams and fans in equal measure. 
Wayne Wong – 02 July 2005 
Lionel Maung was signed from depths of Wanchai on the 15 November 1996. Lionel was Spartan’s first signing after the tragic demotion to 4th division of  the month before. If only I could have seen Lionel in those early days, I would have been amazed by how he has helped Spartans and how much the little Golden Child is loved by the fans of the club.

I remember seeing Lionel play in my first year at the club and thinking how good he was. Lionel, was influenced by a certain Alan Wong when both played at 4th division, I’m certain there was nobody better that Lionel could have learnt his skills from, Manug has often said that the best player he’s played with has been Alan. I’m certain that young players at Spartans will say that the best player they’ve played with has been Lionel Maung. 
Terry Graham – 02 July 2005 
To me, what made Lionel Manug the man he is, was not his Yau Yee Cup Winners Cup winning goal, nor was it the sublime goal that took us to promotion in beating Hoo Cheung at Community Sports, nor even that wonderful, impudent miss kicked cross to score against University last season. Sure ‘Lionel had all of these skills and more, but it was the attitude that it came with that makes him, to me "The Greatest ever Spartans player".

As well as playing the game with a smile on his face, and never resorting to Bergkamp type fits of petulance when on the end of some harsh treatment, Lionel’s work ethic was phenomenal. I can perhaps best sum this up with reference to an appearance for a freindly game:

2000/01 was not Lionel’s best ever season, and by the spring, his first team appearances were limited. Freindly games were typically played before crowds of less than 1,000 at Happy Valley. A game against Harry’s Dinner had already been won, Spartans were 2-0 with only a couple of minutes to go.

Spartan’s attack had been cleared and a throw in was won, level with the edge of the penalty box. As Wayne Wong lined up to take the throw, ‘Lionel ran towards him, ready to receive. A defender stuck to him like glue, but Lionel worked astonishingly hard, feinting and jinking, turning this way and that, until he finally got a yard of space to allow him to receive the throw in.

Nothing came of the move, but to see a player who’d truly "seen it all, done it all" working so hard in an otherwise insignificant freindly game that had already been won was truly the mark of the man.

From the bottom of my heart – "Thank you ‘Lionel" 
Keith Lee – 02 July 2005