How Faiz Subri Went From Playing Football In His Kampung To Winning A FIFA Award
By now, you would've heard of Faiz Subri's historic feat of becoming the first Malaysian to win a FIFA Puskas Award
The 29-year-old footballer garnered nearly 60% of the votes, beating Brazil's Marlone and Daniuska Rodriguez of Venezuela to clinch the award for goal of the year.
The trio made the nominated shortlist after receiving the most number of online votes from an initial stage of 10 players that includes world-famous footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But before Faiz soaked up the glitz and glamour of a FIFA Award Show, he was just an unassuming footballer who adores The Beautiful Game
Born on 8 November 1987, Faiz was raised in Ayer Hitam, Kedah. He grew up in a village surrounded by what the state is famous for - beautiful green paddy fields.
The third out of five siblings, he received his primary and secondary education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tengku Laksamana and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Permatang Bonglai, before transferring to Sekolah Menengah Teknik Arau in Perlis.
During his primary school years, his interest for football began and he started playing for various school competitions. His hard work paid off when he represent Kedah at the age of 18, going on to play for the state in the next four years.
Following his long stint with Kedah, Faiz hit a roadblock 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," he said as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
With his dad's guidance and advice, he held on and was eventually offered a spot in a small club that became a stepping stone to his professional career
He played for KSK Tambun Tulan, a relatively small club, before being offered to play for Perlis for two seasons.
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 as a football player.
After six years of action in the Malaysia League, Mohd Faiz's career peaked when he joined Penang in 2015. It is also in this club that he made the gravity-defying free kick that got him nominated for the 2016 FIFA Puskas Award.
The swerving "knuckleball" goal against Pahang in the Malaysian Super League match on 16 February was so spectacular that it catapulted him to international recognition.
He received his nomination from FIFA last November alongside other footballing greats like Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Malaysians got wind of his nomination and rallied behind the 29-year-old. He got into the top 3 and flew into Zurich, Switzerland for the award ceremony with anticipation.
Faiz was accompanied by his wife Norzawanis Hashim, and his two children, Akif Fayyadh, 4, and eight-month-old Muhammad Aqil Zayyan. FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Affandi Hamzah was also invited to the prestigious event.
"Making it to the top three itself is already success to me. I have mixed feelings at the moment, but I hope Malaysia will be praying for me," said Faiz at the departure gate in KLIA before his flight.
Faiz eventually took home the award, putting his name on the same list as past winners such as famed football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar!
But there was a comical moment as the Malaysian - who won the award after picking up the most votes from football fans across the world - scrolled through his phone on stage for what seemed like an age to find his prepared speech.
Seriously, who wouldn't be nervous?!
After clinching quite possibly his biggest career achievement to date, Faiz was able to tick one off his bucket list when he took a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo
Apart from a shot with the Real Madrid striker, Faiz shared photos of himself with Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and Argentinian legend Diego Maradona
Faiz also became the first ever Asian to clinch the prestigious award named after Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarian football legend who enjoyed huge success with Real Madrid during the 1950s and 60s
Way to go, Faiz! You're such an inspiration and we can't wait to see what's in store for you in the future! :D