FourFourTwo Malaysia catches up with Swiss-Malaysian midfielder Kevin Gunter to talk about his trial at Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)...
So, you’re a half-Malaysian…
[Laughs] Yes, I was born in Switzerland, but my mum was from Belaga, Sarawak.
There has been an influx of players like you “returning” to Malaysia lately. Were you surprised by that?
I actually read your article about the starting line-up [of foreign players with Malaysian heritage]. Honestly, I did not know that there are so many half-Malaysian footballers out there. It’s nice to see that some of the players like me are coming back to Malaysia to try their luck. Maybe one day we will get to play for the national team together!
But enough about them. Let’s talk about you. How did you get into football?
Well, I began playing football at FC Zurich when I was really young before moving to Singapore, where I trained at the Centre of Excellence for seven years. When I was around 13 years old, my family had to return to Switzerland, so I went back to train with Zurich. Then, I spent my youth career at SC Young Fellows Juventus and later FC Weidikon, where I went on to play for the first team. I am an attacking midfielder and prefer to play behind the strikers.
How did you end up having a trial at JDT?
I asked a friend if he knows anyone who is in the football business in Malaysia, and he told me to contact Scott [Ollerenshaw]. So, I liaised with him via email for the next few months and he managed to get me the trial.
But why did you choose to come to Malaysia in the first place?
I have always wanted to come back to this part of the world because I really feel at home in Southeast Asia, and I love the weather and culture. I have also heard of good things about football in Malaysia and its fans, so I want to try playing professionally here and see how far I can go.
So, are you familiar with the country and the official language?
Well, when I was living in Singapore, I came to Malaysia often to visit my extended family members, who are mostly in Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak, so I would say I know a lot about the country. However, I definitely cannot string a full sentence together in Bahasa Malaysia. I only know how to say simple words like ‘berus gigi’ (toothbrush) and ‘makan’ (eat), and count to ‘empat’ (four). [Laughs]
We noticed from your Instagram account that you actually own a Malaysia 2012-14 away jersey. How did you get your hands on it?
It was easy. I really like the design of that away jersey, so when my father was on a business trip in Malaysia, I asked him to get one with my Malaysian name on it for me.
You have a Malaysian name?
Yes, it’s Siak Khin. It was given to me by my grandmother.
You tweeted that you were at the JDT-PDRM match. Having witnessed Malaysian football first-hand, what do you think of the standards?
It’s really different from how football is played in Europe. I would say it is not very tactical and puts more focus on offense. The players in Malaysia also tackle hard, but it’s still good football and I like it.
You had your trial at the same time as one-quarter Malaysian goalkeeper Sam Somerville. How many goals did you manage to put past him in training?
[Laughs] We did not train a lot together, so I did not get an opportunity to do so. Hopefully I get to score some past him in the future!
Having trained at the club, what’s your impression of the Southern Tigers?
I think it is a great and amazing club. Everything, from the infrastructures to the training pitch, has been put together nicely. The players also helped me a lot. So, I really enjoyed my time training at the club.
Who impressed you the most during your trial at JDT?
Safiq [Rahim] is great; he can play diagonal balls and always find his targets. I was also very impressed by Gary [Steven Robbat], who is a real fighter and does not hesitate to get in the thick of the action. I also like Nazrin [Nawi] and Jasazrin [Jamaluddin].
If you do not get an offer from JDT, what's your next step?
I will try my luck at other clubs in Malaysia, but I certainly hope that I did enough to impress JDT. In any case, Weidikon have said that they will take me back if I do not make it here! [Laughs]