Know Your Stars:Mohd Faiz Subri – Puskas Award Winner 2016

Football fans today tend to get nostalgic when it comes to Free Kicks. Powerfully struck rocket like shots with a curve so wicked that goalkeepers do not stand a chance against it (a certain Roberto Carlos comes to mind). Free kicks used to be a novelty – a spectacle to watch. Today, sadly some of the best Free Kick takers in the world are not as widely known as they deserve to be. Hakan Calhanoglu, Sejad Salihovic, Zlatko Zunojovic, Keisuke Honda, Miralem Pjanic, Yohan Cabaye – all of them are masters their own Free Kick shooting style. Yet even many avid football fans – who don’t miss out on watching even one game of their club may not know all of them. Even this list is not exhaustive – there are definitely many more underrated gems delivering magic from Free kicks – unbeknown to us. Just take the case of Dimitri Payet – not many can claim to have known him for long before he started whipping in wicked shots and deliveries last season.

It thus feels very apt that the FIFA Puskas award went to a player –Mohd Faiz Subri – most all football fans had never heard of before for a Free Kick that brings back nostalgic memories of Roberto Carlos and David Beckham. The look on Subri’s face as, none less than Ronaldo Nazario de Lima announced him as the winner of the prestigious award was priceless. Yes, football does make dreams come true.

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Mohd Faiz Subri’s story may not be one for documentaries but what he has achieved calls for a salute from the whole football loving community. Subri has become the first ever Asian footballer to win the prestigious Puskas Award.

Subri was born in the state of Kedah – called the rice bowl of Malaysia. He is the third amongst five siblings in his family. He played in the youth setup at Kedah till 2009 before moving to KSK Tambun Tulang (FAM League). Despite his talents it took time for him to really leave his mark.

Subri’s first successful season was the 2012-13 season. Playing for the Malaysian side T Team Titans – he scored 11 goals in 36 appearances as an attacking midielder. The next season however wasn’t as good. Subri managed to score a mere 5 goals in 28 appearances for Kelantan FC. Even though he was called up for the Malaysian national team in – Subri didn’t manage to clinch his first international cap in either chance.

In the face of difficulties, he carried on. Changing to Terengganu FA he scored an outstanding 37 goals in 39 appearances for the Malaysian club. The next year he made the decision that would change his life. With teammate and friend Mazlizam Mohamad Subri switched to Penang FA. Subri has helped the side achieve the second place in the 2015 Malaysia Premier League. He has till date scored 28 goals in 22 matches for Penang FA – a spectacular feat.

Subri had finally started making heads turn in Malaysia with his speed, his ability to shoot dangerously from distance and spectacular Free Kicks. Then came the match that has now made him well known far beyond the borders of Malaysia.

On February 16 2016 – in a Malaysia Super League match between Penang FA and Pahang FA this happened:

This is what the humble Faiz Subri had to say about his 40 yard insane Knuckleball – “Believe me or not, I have hit the ball in the same way as I always do. But this time I think I’ve been a little bit lucky, the ball took that strange trajectory.”

Subri’s family has always supported his footballing career and didn’t fail to show his gratitude for them in his speech.

Subri however doesn’t intend to let this accolade change him in any way.

“I have a mix of feelings. I’m really happy and proud, of course, for having won this prestigious award.

“But at the same time I don’t want this to divert my mind from my job. Now I have to focus on football, on training hard and playing.”

While he may not be a spectacular 50 goal a year striker – Subri has done something that will ink his name in football’s history books forever. He is an inspiration to all Asian football fans and young hopefuls.

It won’t be a surprise to see Mohd Faiz Subri finally clinching his first national cap for Malaysia soon.

– Abheek Chatterjee

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