News Singapore Premier League • May 11, 2018
Comeback kid Akid ready to roar for Tigers
The 21-year-old midfielder, who had thought of calling it quits, is now a key component for Balestier Khalsa FC
Noor Akid Nordin (no. 24) has grabbed his chance at Balestier Khalsa FC this season.
SINGAPORE, 11 MAY 2018 – When current Hougang United FC tactician Philippe Aw drafted Noor Akid Nordin into the Home United Under-16 team during his secondary school days, the former clearly saw a talent waiting to be unearthed.
Akid was subsequently promoted to the Protectors’ Under-18 team, before joining Balestier Khalsa FC’s Prime League team.
But a budding career came to an untimely halt when the youngster tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a Prime League match for Balestier against Warriors FC in 2016.
“It was too tiring for me as I was playing in the Prime League and was (also) going to training with the S.League team; I hardly had any rest at all,” he told the Singapore Premier League (SPL) website.
“I didn’t complete the full rehabilitation process after the ACL injury. After that, I went to National Service (NS) and did not play competitively for two straight years. I thought I could not make it in football anymore.”
It should never have been the case, especially when Akid was determined to make it onto the biggest stage after the Tigers came calling when he was 17.
“Balestier actually asked me to play for them in the Prime League,” the 21-year-old recalled. “From there, I started to think that I could most probably go far in football and slowly started picking up the best things (that) I can do in football.”
In fact, Akid had already made his professional debut a year earlier, 24 February 2015, in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group Stage match against Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC.
A few days later, he made his local debut against the Warriors at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the 2015 S. League (now SPL) season opener – an occasion he would not forget in a hurry.
“Coach Marko (Kraljevic) told me to make the difference before I came on,” he said. “He placed me at right midfield and I was facing Shi Jia Yi. I was nervous because I was facing a former national player and I have watched him play on TV.
“I was really pressured and was not ready at that moment, I just wanted to keep things simple.”
Akid during his ACL injury.
Akid had pondered making a return to professional football during his time in NS and was sold on the idea after his parents told him, “it’s your life, it’s your choice.”
Cheng Tim Nee, General Manager of Balestier Khalsa said: “He (Akid) wanted to play and called me somewhere in August 2017, but we were not certain (then) if the S.League would continue in 2018.”
When Mr. Cheng phoned Akid in December the same year to sign a pre-contract that would guarantee him a spot on the team after his Operationally Ready Date in February the next year, Akid was so determined to make the most of this opportunity that he cancelled a trip to Bangkok that had been planned for March.
A promising career that was in danger of a premature end was no longer in jeopardy.
“I started training right after I signed a contract with the club,” he said. “I didn’t have any expectations of whether I will play in the Prime League or the SPL as I just wanted to join training and keep (working on regaining) my touches.
“Coming back to professional football was not easy. I tried my best to pick things up but pre-season was never easy after two years without (structured) fitness training.”
Akid has credited team-mate Raihan Rahman – who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last month – as the key figure in helping him regain his footing in professional football.
“He (Raihan) is the one who is always talking to me, guiding me in what is right and wrong, how to stay focused and how to not lose for my temper in the game,” he said. “Even if he is injured now, he will always text me to support and encourage me.
“I am slowly coping better in training and in games and the important thing is to keep learning from Raihan and the rest. I will always try my best and work until I cannot last anymore.”
Akid scored his first ever professional goal against Warriors FC earlier this season.
Akid’s hard work has not gone unnoticed by Kraljevic, who has fielded him in six of the Tigers’ first seven matches of this season, which has surprised the midfielder.
“I actually thought that I wasn’t ready to come back to football this quickly,” he said. “In the first game against Home United FC, I gave myself a lot of pressure. It is a big thing for me that Coach Marko is putting me in the games but I need to prove to him that I am worth his trust.”
Akid has also marked his comeback by scoring the first professional goal of his career against the Warriors on 29 April and cited it as the best moment in his career.
“I was actually shocked (to score) and was just at the right place at the right time,” he recounted. “Vedran (Mesec) flicked the ball to me and I just kicked the ball in!”
Similar to his idols Neymar and Eden Hazard, Akid favours a left midfield role and has cited “speed, agility and skill” as the most important qualities to play in that position.
“Before every match, I will watch YouTube videos of them (Hazard and Neymar),” he said. “Of course, I am not at their level but I try to learn from what they do.”
Now that he has finished NS, Akid spends most of his time outside of football with his family and girlfriend. He also hopes to study at the newly opened PSB Academy campus at Jackson Square, which is a stone’s throw away from the Tigers’ ground, Toa Payoh Stadium.
Having returned to the sport, the Balestier number 24 has now set his sight on bigger goals in his football career.
“In the long term, I hope to get into the national team,” he said. “For now, I have been working very hard to come back from the ACL injury and (the break) from NS. Hard work will always be the biggest thing.”
Fit and healthy again, Akid is finally ready to fulfil the potential that his talent once promised.