News Singapore Premier League • May 15, 2018
Family key for rampaging Young Lion full-back Syahrul
The 19-year-old cites his family as huge influences and has become a consistent performer for Young Lions
Syahrul Sazali in action for the Young Lions this season.
SINGAPORE, 15 MAY 2018 – Most footballers pick up the sport from young and Syahrul Sazali is no exception.
But while the majority do so because of their fathers or another form of male figure in their lives, it was different for Syahrul.
A former athlete who played field hockey and football, Syahrul’s mother imparted to her son the basics of the Beautiful Game and forged in him a passion that set him on the path to becoming a professional player.
“She taught me through her own knowledge and sent me to the Warriors Football Academy, which is how I got started,” Syahrul recalled.
The Singapore Sports School graduate rapidly progressed through the various age-group national teams and went on to make his professional debut in September 2016 for the Young Lions.
“That moment felt exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time because it was a ‘make-it-or-break-it’ situation for me,” he said. “Getting this breakthrough showed that my hard work had finally paid off.”
The following season, the left-back established himself as a key player at club level, making 20 appearances – the second-most in the team.
His consistent form led to Syahrul being called up for the SEA Games football squad in Kuala Lumpur the same year, which he singled out as the best moment of his career to date.
It was particularly sweet too, as Syahrul, who turns 20 in June, had suffered his “most difficult period” before that.
“During mid-season, I was on a bad run of performances,” he said. “Everything was not going my way and my confidence levels dropped.
“But I told myself to keep calm, learn from the mistakes I made and to work hard consistently (to overcome the situation).
“Then, to represent Singapore in a big competition like the SEA Games, was something really overwhelming.”
Syahrul playing for the Singapore Under-23s against Indonesia in March 2018.
While he has played on the left wing, in centre midfield and even as a striker, Syahrul prefers to rampage from the back because it is “fun”.
“My idols are (former Singapore star) Shaiful Esah and (Liverpool left-back) Andrew Robertson,” the 1.68m defender explained. “I admire their delivery of the ball the most as their crosses are on point almost all the time.
“I would describe myself as an attacking full-back. I love to attack whenever I have the chance to.”
Syahrul mentions his family again when asked about his biggest influencers and his admiration for his parents is clear to see.
“My family has been motivating me since young, teaching and guiding me to become the best I can be,” he said. “My biggest influences are my parents as they have worked hard to support the family and provide my siblings and me with everything we need.
“They are my biggest influences because of their positive attitude; they will go to work even when they are unwell, which shows how strong they are.”
He also beams with pride when his younger sister, Putri Nur Syaliza, is mentioned. The 15-year-old made her debut for the Singapore Women’s National Team in March and became the youngest ever international goal-scorer in Singapore history when she netted the opener in a 2-0 friendly win against Maldives.
“Yes, I am very proud of her,” Syahrul said. “At 15 and already playing for the Singapore National Team is quite an achievement! I do give her some advice in her career, for example, to work hard, not be complacent and be humble.”
Syahrul sticks to the same advice and also does his best to guide his less experienced team-mates in the Young Lions set-up this season, such as giving them defending tips.
Currently a student at Republic Polytechnic in a Sports and Exercise Sciences course, Syahrul pinpoints one-on-one defending, strength and composure as areas for improvement if he is to achieve his long-term goal of a National Team call-up.
As for this year, apart from being a consistent performer, Syahrul has just one simple aim: “I have never scored a professional goal, so I want to score at least one!”