Indra Sahdan: I failed to make it abroad, but I'm proud I tried to get out of my comfort zone

Ex-Singapore international Indra Sahdan talks to FFT's Kenneth Tan about his best playing memories, a 'forced' retirement and starting his own strikers' academy...

After 19 years of top-flight football and almost 250 career goals, former national team forward Indra Sahdan Daud hung up his boots at the end of last season. While he failed to achieve his dreams of playing overseas, he can look back at a career well spent.

At the end of the day, I think it was a forced retirement. It’s not like a club needed me and I said I didn’t want to play – that’s not the case

Rising to prominence at the age of 16 with his exploits at the 1995 Lion City Cup, Indra went on to feature in the inaugural S.League season a year later. His most successful club days came at Home United where he picked up one S.League title and three Singapore Cups.

At international level, he was a part of a squad which achieved two consecutive AFF Cup crowns – most notably scoring goals against Manchester United, Uruguay and Japan.

Trials in Vietnam and America failed to work out as he returned to the S.League with Sengkang Punggol before subsequently joining SAFFC (now Warriors FC). He spent the last three years with Home before deciding to call it a day.

These days, Indra resides in Johor Bahru where he is enjoying the slow pace of life. On weekdays, he crosses the Causeway and goes to Mattar Road where he is involved in managing the facilities at Offside Futsal. With Home United Youth Academy (HYFA) based there, he also helps out Home Utd Prime League coach Bernard Lan with training.

FFT could not resist catching up with the 35-year-old who retains his boyish charm after all these years…

You decided to retire last season after so many successful years. How did that decision come about?

At the end of the day, I think it was a forced retirement. It’s not like a club needed me and I said I didn’t want to play – that’s not the case.

Home didn’t want to retain my services and no other clubs are interested. Initially it was the over-30 age ruling, but things didn’t change after the decision was reversed. When the FA first rolled out the ruling, many clubs were affected, especially Home where we had a number of players who are 30-plus. Thus they started signing younger player and filling up all their slots.

That left me with no chance to sign with any club, so I guess I had to move on.

How significant was that 1995 Lion City Cup win for you and other players like Ahmad Latiff and Yazid Yasin?

That competition made a lot of people recognize us. It was one of the big tournaments for youth players back then and I’m just sad that it is not going on anymore.

The weird part was that we had so many good players in that squad, but only three of us (Indra, Latiff and Yasin) made the step up into S.League. I also don’t understand why. Most of them left to do other jobs and some of them are doing quite well – for example Shahrizan who is now a teacher.

What was it like playing in the early years when the S.League just started?

The first to third year was really good, maybe because it was a whole new thing?

I really felt like a star back then. There was the hype and the stadiums were filled; we had like sticker books, mugs and a lot of memorabilia.  I still kept some of these sticker books till now. Sadly we don’t have these things nowadays.

It was until the fourth and fifth year where it started to stagnate. I guess we can’t blame anyone though. If the money is not there, we just have to make do with what is there.

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