News Singapore Premier League • May 29, 2018

Once a firefighter, Zulfadhmi Suzliman now sets fields ablaze at Tampines


The 22-year-old scored his first professional goal for the Stags earlier this month and is ready to shine

Zulfadhmi Suzliman wins the ball back against Albirex Niigata FC (S).

SINGAPORE, 29 MAY 2018 – For two years, Zulfadhmi Suzliman served the nation as a firefighter.

He saved lives, tended to emergencies and worked through odd hours, at the expense of precious sleep, family time and his passion – football.

“National Service (NS) was a major setback in my football career, especially since I was a firefighter,” he told the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) website. “It really took a toll on me as I missed some training (sessions) and (as a result), lost playing time.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity that is given to me to be back on the pitch again to do what I love. I’ve never thought of quitting even when I faced a hard time during my NS days.

“I believed and kept telling myself that I can still do it. Nothing is impossible.”

Indeed, anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. Today, the 22-year-old winger is back on the pitch, fresher than ever, and ready to embrace his opportunity with Tampines Rovers FC.

He now lights up the field with twinkle-toed plays down the wings and works on leaving his defenders for dead with his mazy runs down the flanks, just like a certain Portuguese superstar has done for the past decade.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has been my idol for a long time and we share a similar desire to win every game,” he said. “My favourite position is on the left wing and my strength is dribbling.”

Zulfadhmi must have learnt a thing or two from the five-time UEFA Champions League winner. His first ever professional goal, against Albirex Niigata FC (S) this month, was reminiscent of the Real Madrid man – cutting in from the left flank to unleash an unstoppable curler into the top right-hand corner.

“Scoring that goal is the best moment of my career (so far),” he said. “I was not expecting it but I was really happy to score my first goal and that goal was for my mum.

“She has been supportive all along and it was a belated gift for Mothers’ Day.”

Zulfadhmi Suzliman celebrates with his teammates against Albirex Niigata FC (S).

It was a fitting tribute to his mother, who has raised Zulfadhmi together with his three brothers – who have all turned out for the Young Lions.

“I started playing football when I was just seven years old,” he recalled.

“Before that, I was watching my elder twin brothers (Zulkifli and Zulfadhli, 28) play with all the fans cheering for them. That made me want to play football. At the age of 18, I was set on playing professionally.”

The Tampines number seven has a chance to play against his younger brother Zulqarnaen, 20, twice this week when the Stags take on his former club, the Young Lions, in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Sunday.

Zulfadhmi has featured in all seven of the Stags’ league matches so far this season and has already equalled his total appearance count in the league from last year.

He believes that being able to train regularly without any NS commitments has made the difference this year.

“I think (I’m getting more playing time) because of what I’ve shown in training and I will always work hard in training to show what I’m capable of. I will always try to apply what I do in training into the game.”

Zulfadhmi’s first professional goal was a beauty.

While Zulfadhmi acknowledged that NS has not been ideal for his football career, plying his trade as a firefighter has taught him many valuable lessons in life.

“It has taught me to keep fit because whenever we are out there for calls to save lives, we must be mentally and physically strong and be able to endure long hours,” he explained.

“Saving lives has also taught me to be more disciplined and to persevere (through the difficult times).”

Zulfadhmi’s strong showings on the pitch this season is a testament that he has placed the struggles from last year fully behind him.

Having finished serving NS, the family-oriented youngster now gets to spend more time with his loved ones and is also aiming for bigger accomplishments on the pitch.

“During my free time, I mostly hang out with my family or my friends to do other activities such as bowling,” he added. “My family, they motivate me all the time.

“For now, I hope to win every match, win the league and keep performing in every game.

“In the long term, I hope to able to commit and stay at Tampines Rovers for a long time and hopefully get a call-up to the National Team.”

That is only be a matter of time if Zulfadhmi keeps up the impressive work and when that happens, one can be sure that he will be representing the nation in a profession he truly loves.

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