News Singapore Premier League • July 13, 2018
Battle-hardened Amiruldin determined to fulfill potential
The 21-year-old attacker earned his stripes with Home last season after returning from a long-term injury
Amiruldin Asraf in action against Balestier Khalsa FC. (Credit: Home United FC Facebook)
SINGAPORE, 13 JULY 2018 – By the age of 21, not many would have scored for Singapore in front of 30,000 fans and had the chance to play with their childhood idols.
Yet, not many have had to suffer the setback of a long-term injury lay-off either, which ultimately led to being released from the youth set-up of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
It is fair to say that Amiruldin Asraf has had a roller-coaster youth career, but he is finally reaping the rewards of his hard work and dedication to succeed in the game.
“The key for every footballer to do well in their career is discipline, determination and desire. Without these attitudes, you can’t go far,” the 1.74m youngster told the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) website.
Amiruldin played in the Under-16 Centre of Excellence (COE) League for Balestier Khalsa FC when he was 14, before going on to represent the National Football Academy (NFA, now FAS Football Academy or FFA) U-16s in the 25th Lion City Cup in 2013. He was subsequently selected for a training stint with Eintracht Frankfurt the following year.
The gifted youngster rose through the NFA ranks and went on to represent the nation at the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championship in 2015.
But that was when it all started to go wrong for the youngster with huge potential.
“After the first match of that AFF campaign, I suffered meniscus, medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament tears in my knee and I was out for six months,” he recalled.
“After I graduated from NFA U-18, FAS released me and I was forced to find a club. I had to find my way back up to play professionally.
“It was hard and stressful but my family, friends, coaches and my determination (to come back) kept me going.”
Amiruldin Asraf shields the ball from a Brunei DPMM player. (Credit: A•K•K Design)
His persistence to return to the highest level would not go unnoticed and it was the Protectors that handed Amiruldin the opportunity that he so craved.
“Home United came and offered me to represent the club in the Prime League in 2016,” he recalled. “I continued to work hard and after being top scorer, the club decided to hand me a professional contract to play in the first team.”
Amiruldin made his professional debut as an 88th-minute substitute for Home on 4 August 2016 in a 3-0 win over Warriors FC.
His breakthrough came the following season when he made 31 appearances in all competitions and had the opportunity to play with his idols such as Hariss Harun, Faris Ramli and Hassan Sunny.
“It was a great experience for me to be part of the Home United’s first team and getting my professional debut. I felt very excited and nervous at the same time to play with all my idols that I’ve been watching on TV,” he said.
He scored his first professional goal for Home in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup in a 3-0 win over Phnom Penh Crown on 7 February 2017, but he it was his brace against Tampines Rovers FC three months later that was the most memorable.
“I didn’t expect to be in the starting line up for that match but when Stipe Plazibat was injured, I was called up to lead the Home front line,”said the former mechanical engineering student at Institute of Technical Education (College East).
“I did not expect to score two goals. It was really a good feeling for me to get not only one, but two. I feel very happy and proud because Coach Aidil Sharin gave me the opportunity and I showed him what I can do.”
Amiruldin’s strong showing at club level earned him a spot in Richard Tardy’s 2017 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games squad in August the same year, where he smashed in a screamer from range at Shah Alam Stadium against the hosts.
“The best moment of my career was when… I scored my first ever SEA Games goal against Malaysia,” declared Amiruldin.
“It’s a feeling that everyone wants – to score in front of 30 plus thousand fans. I feel proud to score for my country.”
Amiruldin Asraf represents the Singapore Under-23s in a friendly match against Myanmar.
Amiruldin started playing football under the influence of his brother and father, Nodin Kalil, who is a former Lions striker that played in the 1994 Dream Team.
His brother, Naqiuddin Nodin, was a goalkeeper for Balestier Khalsa FC last season.
“I was five years old when I watched my brother play football for his school and I begin to like football, so I started training with my father,” he said. “I have always dreamt of playing professionally and making this sport my career.”
Quite rightly, Amiruldin is currently living his dream as a professional and has made 15 appearances for Home in all competitions this year.
Yet, he is eager to push for more playing time and is ready to take his opportunities when they come.
“Honestly, I had a better season last year because I had more playing time,” he reflected. “This year it has been hard for me because I did not get much playing time but of course, I have to keep working hard.
“I will still fight for my position when I’m given the chance but sometimes things won’t go your way so we just have to wait for the right time to shine.”
The Home number 10 remains positive despite limited playing time and is still as determined as ever to represent the Lions at senior international level in the future.
“Everyone in their country wants to put on their country jersey and fight for their country with pride,” he asserted.
“It was the most unexpected thing that happened to me to be wearing the national jersey and represent the country (at youth level). I feel very proud and excited to get a chance to represent the country.
“Every time I wore the Singapore jersey, the spirit and determination for me to do well in the match are very high. I’m very thankful to get this kind of opportunity.”
In a few months, Amiruldin will have to serve the nation in another capacity by enlisting into the Home Team Academy (HTA) on 9 October.
But he is not considering another prolonged absence from the game, saying: “My plan is still to play professionally and in Home United, if they still need me.”
With his unwavering determination to succeed and love for the game, there is little doubt that Amiruldin has given himself the best chance to reach the level that his talents once promised.