In the second part of our two-part interview with Safuwan Baharudin, he talks about his pioneering move to join Melbourne City, the real reasons he left the A-League club and his appearance on FIFA 15...
So far, 2015 has been nothing short of inspirational for Safuwan.
In January he joined Melbourne City, becoming the first Singaporean to play in the A-League. The Singapore international penned a loan deal after impressing during a two-week training stint with the club in Abu Dhabi.
“It was a big surprise for me at that time,” Safuwan recalled. “I got a call saying they wanted me to be there for 10 days to train with the team. It was like a dream.
The first person I met when I arrived at the team breakfast was (former Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers winger) Damien Duff. I just told myself to take each day as it comes and give my all.
“Initially they told me that they only wanted me for one game, which was a friendly against Al-Jazeera. I played for 60 minutes and then after that they extended my stay to a second game.
“I was on the bench but after 20 minutes the right-back got injured. The manager turned to me and I told myself this is 70 minutes for me to prove that I have got what it takes.”
As it turned out, City coach John van 't Schip was impressed enough to sign Safuwan and hand him a chance to make history in the A-League.
His debut was no Sunday stroll in the park either. Safuwan was thrust right into the heat of the Melbourne Derby against Melbourne Victory, a match that his side would lose 3-0.
Safuwan would go on to have an unforgettable time Down Under, netting twice in six appearances for the Victorian-based club, including a goal that sparked a comeback 3-1 victory against Adelaide United.
Another milestone was then to come his way as he became the first ever Singaporean to be featured in the popular video game, FIFA 15.
“I never tried using myself in FIFA but I did see myself and it was a funny one for me. Being the first Singaporean to be featured is something I never dreamt of. It was unthinkable. People sent me pictures and I thought I looked okay, but I’ve seen comments saying I looked more Chinese than I should,“ quipped Safuwan.
On the pitch, there were no more games for Safuwan as a back injury forced the tenacious player’s Australian journey to come to a premature end. A bitter blow, it meant Safuwan wouldn’t be able to take part in the season-ending finals series.
The player would eventually take to the field about a month later for the LionsXII, with fans and the media questioning if his move had indeed come to an end because of an injury or if there were other factors behind the breakdown of his stint.
“I always respect what the fans say but it was purely because of injury (that I left),” said Safuwan.
“The pain settled down only after I took a few injections here.