News Singapore Premier League • June 8, 2018

Right place, right time for late bloomer Suhairi Sabri


The Home United FC midfielder made his professional debut last month at 22

Suhairi Sabri in action for Home United FC.

SINGAPORE, 8 JUNE 2018 – If there is one thing that Suhairi Sabri knows, it is the importance of being at the right place at the right time and making the most of your opportunities.

Barely three years ago, Suhairi was unsure about his ability to make it to “the next level” when he was still playing for the Warriors FC Under-18 team.

When the midfielder finally earned a chance to play for the National Football Academy (NFA, now FAS Football Academy or FFA) and started to have aspirations of making it far in football, he had to face a bigger challenge.

“The biggest setback in my career was definitely when I enlisted last year,” he told the Singapore Premier League (SPL) website. “I didn’t train for three months or so and I just finished my Basic Training Course (BTC) at the Home Team Academy (HTA).”

But in every adversity lies a greater opportunity.

Due to his status as a serviceman in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Suhairi was offered the opportunity to play for Home United FC’s Prime League team in 2017.

He never looked back since and his outstanding performances have since earned him a first-team contract with the Protectors this season.

“Opportunities like this don’t come twice, so I’m going to keep working hard and see where it will take me,” the 22-year-old said.

“When I was offered to play for the team this year, I took it with both hands. I was ready to take on the challenge of juggling both training and my National Service (NS) duties.

“Everything has been going really well for me so far and I hope that this will continue on until the end of the season.”

Indeed, it has been a dream of a debut for Suhairi, who made his professional bow against Brunei DPMM FC in a 3-1 win at the Bishan Stadium on 26 May.

“It was a very special moment for me,” he recalled. “I still can’t believe that I actually played in a SPL game; it was truly an amazing experience for me, especially to play alongside idols I’ve been seeing on television as a boy. I’m humbled by the experience.”

Suhairi walking onto the field for his professional debut against Brunei DPMM FC (Photo: Home United).

Suhairi did not have to look far to know that the road to becoming a professional was not going to be an easy one.

“My dad used to play the sport too and he was a player in the S. League during his younger days,” said Suhairi of his father, Sabri bin Tengku Ta’acob, an ex-player for Gombak United FC for a couple of seasons in the late 90s.

“I knew it was going to be hard but I was willing to give it a try.”

Suhairi’s determination to succeed at the highest level has definitely caught the eye of his coaches at Home, as evident when he rose from the Prime League to the first team within a year.

Having played 70 minutes on his debut against DPMM last month, Suhairi went on to play the full 90 minutes in the Protectors’ next match against Young Lions in a 4-1 victory earlier this week.

“I think Coach Aidil (Sharin) and Coach Saswa(dimata Dasuki) sees the capabilities I have that I myself don’t realise yet,” he said.

“I’m just focused on working hard and giving my best when I’m given the chance and I still have so much to learn and I’m learning new things in every training session.”

Suhairi, who started his career as a full-back before converting to a central midfield position, believes that he has to improve his touches on the ball, decision-making and his fitness levels to play in his current position – similar to the one that his idol, Toni Kroos, plays for Real Madrid and the Germany National Team.

“Believe it or not, I used to play at left-back during most of my secondary school days until my school coach decided to randomly slot me into the central midfield position one day. It has been my favourite position since,” Suhairi said.

“I like to keep things simple when I play but I tend to overdo things at times.

“Kroos tries to be as simple as possible and he can defend and attack at the same time. I try to replicate those things when I play and love to watch his videos on YouTube when I have some spare time.”

Suhairi (far left) in the Home United line-up to face Young Lions.

Hard work, coupled with his ability to embrace his opportunities, has been key for Suhairi in his rise to become a professional.

Aidil acknowledged as much when he commented after the Young Lions game: “It’s hard for me to drop Anu (M. Anumanthan), but I have to look at who’s performing and consider the three Under-23 slots. Suhairi did well (in Anu’s position) and he deserves to be in the (Singapore) Under-23 team.”

Now, the Home United number 21 is certain of what he needs to do in order to raise his game to the next level.

“I would obviously love to play for the National Team one day and also play abroad like many of the Singapore players are doing now,” Suhairi shared.

“But in order to achieve that goal, I have to work a lot on improving myself and I still have a very long way to go. I just hope that I will stay injury free and try to be in this game for as long as I can.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time and I’m really thankful to the coaches for having faith in me and if God’s willing, everything will fall into place.”

After all, opportunities come when we least expect it – and no one knows this better than the man himself.

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