Seven Malaysians that were tipped for the top but fell short

Over the years, Malaysia has produced some talented footballers, but not all lived up their potential for various reasons - ranging from injury, unfortunate accidents or simply not having enough self-belief...

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Thamil struggled to impress then Penang coach Ashley Westwood and has remained a free agent since

Things have gone so wrong for Thamil since he left Harimau Muda ahead of the 2014 season.

Once among Malaysia’s leading Under-23 strikers, 2014 marked the start of his woes in football as he struggled to make the grade. The 2009 AFF Under-19 Championship topscorer had injuries but it was also down to his attitude that saw his career take a turn for the worse.

A frontman role with the Red Giants was simply beyond reach considering the form Paulo Rangel was in, but Thamil managed 15 starts from the flanks. He scored two goals but a back injury ruled him out of the 2014 Asian Games.

The 2011 SEA Games gold medallist returned to full fitness in 2015 but he fell down the pecking order and barely showed his determination to get back into the matchday squad as the pounds piled up. He signed for second tier KL in 2016 but struggled to become a regular.

Thamil had trials at Penang for the 2017 campaign but the 27-year-old struggled to impress then coach Ashley Westwood and has remained a free agent since.


Once labelled the next Azizol Abu Haniffah, Azrul trained in Germany with Wolfsburg in 1993, before being part of Malaysia's 1996 Olympic qualification squad under Claude Le Roy.

The Kuala Lumpur youngster was a key figure in a young Harimau Malaya squad that headed to France for the 1995 Tournoi Espoirs de Toulon, a leading under-20 tournament.

Azrul had already impressed a scout despite Malaysia suffering a 3-0 defeat to Angola in the opening match, with talks of a potential RM1 million move to French side Montpellier.


Yet the world came crashing down on his career, when an 11th-minute tackle from England's Phil Neville resulted in a knee injury that Azrul would never really recover from.

He returned after surgery and had some domestic success with Perak and Negeri Sembilan, but the midfielder never played for Malaysia again.


Gopinath was groomed for great things by the Kuala Lumpur Football Association (KLFA) and its former city Mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar from a young age and had been playing for KL’s age-group teams since the age of 12 in 1986, scoring plenty of goals.

KL tied him to a five-year contract and sent him on a stint in England with Aston Villa in December 1991. He returned after three months and had another European stint for six months, this time with German club Bayer Leverkusen.

Photo: Supplied

Two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, however, curtailed his growth. The first was sustained at the Malaysian Games in Johor in 1992 and while he returned to play for KL, a second ACL injury in 1995 marked the begining of the end.

He joined Perak to salvage his career in 1996 before joining FAM Cup debutants Malay Mail FC (now defunct) in 1997.

Gopinath left for Hong Kong at the age of 24 in 1998 and majored in Sports Science at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. He also once served the AC Milan Soccer School there in an advisory role.


Jalil can only look back to a career that could have been had he not suffered a nerve disorder at a young age, one that has left him paralysed waist down and wheelchair bound.

He caught the attention of national scouts while playing for his school and Pahang as a teenager and was roped into the national youth side in 1988.

The former striker has been on a wheelchair for the past 15 years and is also suffering from tuberculosis

He later moved to the Kedah youth set-up, moving up the ranks and playing for the senior team for five seasons before being forced to call it quits.

According to local reports, the former striker has been on a wheelchair for the past 15 years and is also suffering from tuberculosis, which has spread to the bone.