Amri Reinvented: Malaysia’s veteran looking to prolong his playing days

Describing his return to Selangor as a happy moment, veteran Amri Yahyah has indicated his desire to stay with his boyhood club well beyond 2017. The 36-year-old is also eyeing a new position on the pitch...

With age catching up and his legs losing pace, Malaysia international Amri is eager to spend his final years of top-level football with his first love – Selangor.

Amri climbed up the ranks at Selangor as a youngster before making his debut at the age of 20 in 2001.

The Red Giants were the only team he had ever played for before a move to cash-rich Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)

The Red Giants were the only team he had ever played for before a move to cash-rich Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), who under Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim set themselves out to be the best team in the country.

Having already won everything on offer in Malaysia during his time with Selangor, Amri added seven more winners’ medals – including a historic AFC Cup in 2015 – in what was three glorious years with the Southern Tigers.

His time in Johor Bahru came to an end eventually, largely because of his old age. The club wanted to freshen their squad with youngsters such as Safawi Rasid, Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and Afiq Fazail in 2017.

Amri moved to Melaka after talks with Selangor broke down at the start of the season

That meant stalwarts such as Amri, Safee Sali and Jasazrin Jamaluddin had to be released.

Amri joined Melaka United after talks of a return to Selangor broke down following the latter’s financial woes at the start of the season.

But Selangor appeared to have things back in order under new president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal and Amri’s return was only a matter of time.

Back at where it all began for him, Amri expressed hopes his stay with Selangor this time will go well beyond the 2017 season.

Frankly, I am very grateful to be accepted back into the team after leaving in 2013

- Amri Yahyah

“I’m really happy to be back at Selangor …. I cannot deny that,” Amri told FourFourTwo.

“Frankly, I am very grateful to be accepted back into the team after leaving in 2013. Now that I am here, I am hungry for more trophies with Selangor.

“Maybe not this season because Selangor are rebuilding, but there are always the coming years ahead.”

With Selangor, Amri won three Malaysia Super League (MSL) titles, a Malaysia Premier League (MPL) title, two Malaysia Cup trophies and three FA Cup.

Though he could be considered a legend at Selangor, his relationship with the Selangor fans broke down after he celebrated a goal for JDT against the former at Larkin in 2014.

Here to win the fans back and more

He was booed in the return fixture at Shah Alam but still circled the field to acknowledge the fans at the end of the match, only to be met with more insults.

Amri, however, felt that was all in the past. Fans even attended Selangor’s training session in numbers after the club announced the return of Amri and Indonesian starlet Andik Vermansyah.

“Everything is good now. I’m with Selangor again and if I need to win some fans back, I will. I want to concentrate on playing,” he said.

FITTING INTO THE HEART OF MIDFIELD

Amri made his debut against Pahang in the MSL in May. He also started against T-Team on July 1 as the Red Giants went on to win 4-2 to kick-start the second half of the season.

He was not among the scorers and having scored plenty of goals for Selangor in the past, Amri may have to be contented with not only having lesser goals to his name, but also lesser attempts or runs into the box in his second coming as he appears to be reinventing himself as a central-midfielder.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an attacker has dropped to a deeper role in the latter stages of their career.

Amri is looking to reinvent himself as a midfielder

Legendary former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs was largely a central midfielder when he retired at the age of 41 in 2014.

Closer to Amri, former Malaysia striker Hairuddin Omar dropped to midfield and then defence in recent times.

“Perhaps that is how my future would be like too. I actually played in midfield for Selangor in 2009 but never played there regularly after that … not for Malaysia too,” said Amri.

“I am getting more of the ball in the centre and can create chances for others. I have to work harder defensively and still need to sharpen some aspects to play better in this position.

At the end of the day, Amri said he had no issues playing in any position, so as long as he was tasked to by his coach.

“It’s really up to the coach (P.Maniam) where he wants to play me. I was glad the debut went well. Hopefully we can climb up the MSL standings and go on a good run in the Malaysia Cup.”

Photos: Asiana.my