Football: Fandi Ahmad eyes Games glory in 2019, 2021

Fandi Ahmad (right) poses with Brazilian football legend Roberto Carlos during their meeting with students in Singapore on February 13, 2017. In a storied career filled with championships and accolades, there is one title that Fandi craves - the SEA
Fandi Ahmad (right) poses with Brazilian football legend Roberto Carlos during their meeting with students in Singapore on February 13, 2017. In a storied career filled with championships and accolades, there is one title that Fandi craves - the SEA Games gold that Singapore had never won.PHOTO: AFP

He wants elusive regional gold as coach after winning 3 silvers and 3 bronzes during playing career

As team talisman and unerring striker, local football legend Fandi Ahmad has led the national team to numerous highs, including winning the Malaysian league and Malaysia Cup double in 1994.

Yet, in a storied career filled with championships and accolades, there is one title that Fandi craves - the SEA Games gold that Singapore had never won.

Yesterday, at an event organised by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central, the 54-year-old said: "My dream is to help Singapore win the SEA Games football gold and that is my aim for the 2019 and 2021 SEA Games.

"I don't know if I can do it but I will keep believing."

Last October, the former LionsXII coach signed a contract with the Football Association of Singapore to be the national head coach of youth, which will see him lead the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 and 2021 SEA Games teams.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

I'd get hit, get whacked, get into fights but whenever you fail you just try harder. That's how you succeed.

FANDI AHMAD, on improving footballing skills in his youth by playing with older boys.

As a player, Fandi has come close to that elusive gold before. He clinched a silver medal at three editions of the biennial meet (1983, 1985, 1989) and is also a three-time bronze medallist (1991, 1993, 1995).

And the task is getting tougher with Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia producing formidable youth teams in recent years.

But he said: "I've always enjoyed challenges. When I was young I would play with the older boys. I'd get hit, get whacked, get into fights but whenever you fail you just try harder. That's how you succeed."

FREAK ACCIDENT

There was a lot of blood. But I was lucky because it just missed my bladder.

FANDI, on the most serious injury during his time as a footballer, when he sat on an exposed three-centimetre seat lever in the team bus and pierced his buttocks.

The former national captain was sharing with some 500 ITE students how sport turned his life around. He recalled how he was inspired by his late father, former national goalkeeper Ahmad Wartam.

The gregarious Fandi also found time to tickle the crowd with his worst-ever injury which came from a freak accident.

Boarding the team bus in 1993, he sat on an exposed three-centimetre seat lever, which pierced his buttocks. He was hospitalised for observation for a few days.

"There was a lot of blood. But I was lucky because it just missed my bladder," said the father of five.

He was later joined on stage by former Real Madrid superstar Roberto Carlos. The Brazilian is in town at the invitation of the Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy, launched in 2013 in collaboration with ITE College Central.

Together, the duo launched autographed footballs into the crowd, sending the students into delirium.

Second-year student Perry Too, 19, said: "I have watched YouTube videos of Roberto and Fandi since I was 12. They inspire me to be a better footballer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Fandi eyes games glory in 2019, 2021'. Print Edition | Subscribe