News Singapore Premier League • March 2, 2020
Khairin Nadim, 15, becomes youngest ever SPL debutant
SINGAPORE, 2 MARCH 2020 – History was made on Sunday evening in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) as Khairin Nadim became the youngest ever debutant in the competition’s 25-year history.
At 15 years and 298 days, the 76th-minute substitute eclipsed Vasileios Zikos Chua’s record of 16 years and 80 days from 2018 when he came on during the Young Lions’ 4-1 loss to Hougang United at Jurong West Stadium.
It was a remarkable moment for the striker, who became the first ever player below 16 years of age to play in the league after replacing Rezza Rezky.
Still in disbelief after the game, Khairin told SPL.sg that he never expected to make his professional debut this season, having only made the Under-15 National Team two years ago.
“I don’t think I deserve to play because I am too young,” he said. “But when my coach asked me to warm up, I was really like shocked and nervous. Then when I warmed up and he called my name (and told me to get ready), I was very delighted and very happy.”
The Secondary 4 student at Woodlands Secondary added, “When I came in, I looked at all the players and I was (still) shocked because they were all my idols last time. But mostly, I (just) wanted to show all of them what I could do.”
Khairin’s opportunity came during the end of 2019 when U-15 Head Coach Philippe Aw, along with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical department, had a discussion and decided he needed a more competitive environment to aid his development.
“We needed him to be in an environment where he could be challenged better,” Aw told SPL.sg. “With Young Lions’ regular training, he will improve better… so we asked him to join their training, he did well and that’s why Young Lions gave him a contract. But he needs to stay disciplined and work hard, that is very important.”
The attacker had caught the eye during Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers last September, netting a superb solo effort that started at the halfway line in a 6-1 defeat to DPR Korea.
Young Lions Head Coach Nazri Nasir noted that Khairin displays maturity that belies his teen years, saying, “I think the boy shows a lot of character in terms of confidence. For his age, he doesn’t worry about any opponent. He will take on players and (from what) I have seen in training, he has very quick feet, is good with the ball.”
The former Singapore captain added there will be more opportunities for Khairin this season, “Of course, he needs to work on his upper body strength… so he can cope with the bigger boys. For him, it’s more about putting him in during the second half to create trouble for the opponents. I can assure you I will feature him more (as well as) other players like Marc Ryan (Tan), Nor Hakim and Asraf (Zahid)… when opportunities arise. I believe they are just waiting to step in and play.”
Khairin is determined to make his chances count and said, “It (the record) means a lot because I created history and I really want to do more for Young Lions.”