Interviews

Back with a vengeance: The goalkeeper who refused to let a traumatic accident end his career

Former Singapore Under-22 goalkeeper Zulfairuuz Rudy speaks to FourFourTwo about the traffic accident that almost put a premature end to his career and how he is determined to bounce back stronger in 2018…

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The last thing Zulfairuuz remembers prior to the sickening collision is a car hurtling at full speed towards him. Next thing he knew, he was lying on the road - with his motorcycle flung 10 metres away.

Once I woke up, I tried to move my legs, but they felt 'locked'

- Zulfairuuz Rudy

“I was going back home that afternoon after seeing a doctor at Mount Alvernia Hospital for my MRI review … then this car beat the red light (to do a right turn) and hit the front of my motorcycle,” he recalled of the incident, which occurred seven months ago.

“It happened so quick and I had no chance to avoid (a collision). I don’t even know who drove the car. What I got from the TP (Traffic Police) was the license plate and all I know is that it was a private hire car.

“The impact knocked me out and I only regained consciousness a while after landing. Once I woke up, I tried to move my legs, but they felt 'locked'. I was wondering why I couldn’t move until some onlookers came to me and said to me ‘your hip is fractured!’"

“I was left lying there until the paramedics arrived. At that moment, I thought my football career was over.”

Zulfairuuz spent over a week in the hospital as a result of the accident

Ironically, a visit to the hospital to fix his right hip – which he injured while playing for Hougang United in a Prime League game a month prior – had ended in the serious traffic accident which more than aggravated it.    

Zulfairuuz had to undergo hip reduction surgery which left him on a month’s MC (medical certificate) before returning in August to do some light pool training with Hougang fitness coach Dirk Schauenberg.

Even now when I dive (for the ball), I’m like scared something will pop out

- Zulfairuuz Rudy

The road to recovery was a tough one – more psychologically than physically – according to the 23-year-old.

“I couldn’t kick with my strong (right) leg, so I simply trained with my left during the post-recovery,” he said.

“The more frustrating and hardest part was when the doctor gave me clearance. Everybody thought I could do the same high-flying dives which I did previously, but I was actually still in a state of phobia.

“Even now when I dive (for the ball), I’m like scared something will pop out; I was told that this can happen if I hadn’t recovered well. But if I don’t (dive), how do I know if I did a good recovery?

Zulfairuuz in action for Home

“I just kept going because all I know is that I want to get back to playing football and try to be No.1 again.”

The determined Zulfairuuz would make a quicker-than-expected return, eventually making the bench for Hougang’s final two S.League matches of the 2017 season.

[NEXT: Making 2018 his year]