GEORGE TOWN, Feb 20 — Enjoying his new-found fame since his “knuckleball” kick went viral earlier this week, Penang’s Mohd Faiz Subri said his rise to football’s elite can be credited to his father’s great support.
Faiz recalls the time when he and his father Subri Kadir would go to Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Star to watch Kedah play.
“It was an enjoyable atmosphere at the stadium. Players were cheered and everyone celebrated whenever we scored a goal. I got the privilege to experience that at a young age,” said the 28-year-old.
Faiz said he was hooked on the sport from an early age and learned how to play from his father, who supported him throughout his development.
He started his journey at primary school playing for SK Laksamana in Kubang Pasu in Under-12 competitions in 1999 and 2000. His passion for the game grew when later playing for SMK Permatang Bonglai.
He later moved to Perlis where he represented SM Teknik Arau as well as his high school, and was voted best player in the vocational school's football competition for Kedah and Perlis in 2005.
“I wanted to be on the front line and help them get as many goals as I could.”
Following a long stint in the President’s Cup for Kedah’s Under-21 team, Faiz endured a lonely road as he failed to earn the attention of Malaysia Super League (MSL) clubs.
“At that point, I still had no idea how to take a curling free kick as I did a few days ago,” Faiz said.
“It was the most devastating period in my career in early 2009. I could not play football since no team offered me a place for about half a year.”
Faiz resorted to painting to earn some money and help his family, but it did little to ease the pain of not being on the pitch.
“My father had to calm me down and advise me that an opportunity would come and I just needed to be patient.
“What he said became a reality,” Faiz said.
Towards the end of the year, he was called-up by KSK Tambun Tulang, a small club coached by former Perlis captain Yusri Che Lah. It was only a brief stint, as was his time at Universiti Malaysia Perlis, that eventually led to a signing for MSL outfit Perlis for two seasons.
He said it was a valuable experience to play top-flight football as a 22-year-old. In 2011, Faiz signed for T-Team and played under Pahang legend Ahmad Yunus Mohd Alif, a period that would become a turning point for the striker with more and more clubs noticing his progression.
He then moved to the east coast and enjoyed stints at Kelantan (2012-13) and Terengganu (2013-14).
“It was a different atmosphere with a different culture compared to the ones on the northern side of Malaysia. But it was interesting,” he said.
“The most memorable moment was when I scored in an AFC Cup group stage match for Kelantan against Vietnamese side SHB Da Nang FC.
“AFC is a top competition in Asia and the privilege to score was an amazing feeling,” he said.
Faiz was snapped up by Penang early last year. Following his wonder-goal against Pahang on Tuesday, you could say the rest is history.
Faiz said he received a call from his father to congratulate him on his effort and was told of how his wife Norzawanis Hashim was delighted by the goal.
“The next morning my wife said ‘Abang log into Facebook … people are talking about your goal last night’ and it was flattering that they compared it to the goal scored by Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos in 1997,” Faiz said.
Next in line for Faiz is a call up to Malaysia’s national team. He was on the cusp of selection in 2012 and 2013 but never made the cut.
“It is ok. I will wait for my moment. Datuk Ong (Kim Swee) said he will call me up when he believes I am ready to contribute to the country.” When the opportunity comes, I will do my best for club, country, friends and family. Even for Penang, I will play as long as they want me to stay.”