Football: Hariss Harun ready to say ‘hola’ as stint at L’Hospitalet begins

ST VIDEO: ARAFFIN JAMAR
Lions vice-captain Hariss Harun at the airport, preparing to leave for Europe to spend a year with Spanish side Centre d'Esports L'Hospitalet.
Lions vice-captain Hariss Harun at the airport, preparing to leave for Europe to spend a year with Spanish side Centre d'Esports L'Hospitalet.ST PHOTO: ARAFFIN JAMAR
Lions midfielder Hariss Harun in action against Syria last year. Singapore lost the friendly 2-0. Hariss believes his stint in Spain will help him become a better player for club and country.
Lions midfielder Hariss Harun in action against Syria last year. Singapore lost the friendly 2-0. Hariss believes his stint in Spain will help him become a better player for club and country.TNP FILE PHOTO

Lions vice-captain Hariss Harun is on his way to spend a year with Spanish side Centre d'Esports L'Hospitalet, but he did not take many local tidbits or sauces with him - because he wants to adapt to Spanish culture as much as possible.

Speaking to The Straits Times before he left early this morning, he said: "I'll probably only get some biscuits... have to learn how to adapt, and this is part of it."

The national midfielder is the first Singaporean to play professionally in Spain. The 26-year-old will be with L'Hospitalet - who are in Group 3 of the Segunda Division B - on loan from Malaysian parent club Johor Darul Takzim.

"I've interacted with Spanish-speaking coaches and team-mates, so I understand a little bit of Spanish and can say 'how are you'... but it's not enough for me to strike up a conversation yet.

"I'm definitely going to make a big effort to pick up as much (Spanish) as I can. It'll be a useful life skill to have and the onus is on (foreign players like) me to learn the language and I hope the effort will endear us to the local players."


Lions midfielder Hariss Harun in action against Syria last year. Singapore lost the friendly 2-0. Hariss believes his stint in Spain will help him become a better player for club and country. TNP FILE PHOTO

The Catalonia-based club is mired in a relegation battle in the third tier of Spanish football, after La Liga and La Liga 2. The league includes the reserve teams of Barcelona, Villarreal and Espanyol.

Struggling L'Hospitalet lie 18th out of 20 sides after 26 games and have won just one of their last five matches.

They host eighth-placed Atletico Saguntino on Sunday at their 6,700-seat Estadi La Feixa Llarga. Saguntino beat L'Hospitalet 4-1 in their last meeting in October and have won their last three league matches.

Hariss, with 71 caps for Singapore, is raring to start training "as soon as possible".

"Spain is a good place with a strong football culture. Even though I'm playing in the third tier, considering that the top teams' reserve sides are playing here, the competition will be tough," he said.

"Hopefully I can help them in some way and do some good stuff.

"It's a lot of hard work and learning. There will be ups and downs and I'll be completely out of my comfort zone... but I know there will be a lot that I can learn as a person and as a football player."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Hariss ready to say 'hola' as stint at L'Hospitalet begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe