Noor Ali: I feel old being called a “veteran”!
After featuring in two previous SOS Cup editions as a member of the Singapore Selection squad, Noor Ali will finally get the chance to feature in this prestigious event again – this time in his new status as a Singapore veteran.
The retired Singapore international, who looks relatively young despite turning 41 on 16 May, admits the ‘veteran’ tag is something that will take some getting used to.
“Of course I feel old being called a veteran!” he told FourFourTwo. “20 years ago, I started my professional career. 20 years on, I’m already in the veterans’ team!
“That’s how fast time flies. I really won’t be surprised if the referee checks me tomorrow, saying that I don’t look my age.
“I feel old in terms of my body condition now; I can no longer play with the kind of intensity which I did in my younger days. But (being the youngest member amongst the players) I’m actually still the baby of the team!”
Having made 36 appearances for the Singapore national team from 1998 to 2004, Noor Ali admits that the SOS Cup experience brings back fond memories of donning the famous red Lions shirt.
“I’m proud to be called up to play for the veterans,” said the current Geylang International assistant coach. “It’s nice to have this kind of atmosphere again; going overseas to represent your country and meeting my old teammates whom I’ve played with throughout my career.
“I’ve played with people like Nazri (Nasir), Rafi (Ali) during my days in the national team; I also played with Malek (Awab) when I was still a 20-year-old boy at Tampines (Rovers).
“It’s good to be reunited with them because this is a bunch of fantastic guys and you can see the team spirit whenever they travel together. We’re going to play against Selangor, who are our main rivals back in the 80s and 90s, so nothing gets better than that.”
With a crowd of between 60,000 to 80,000 expected to turn for this annual event, Noor Ali – known for his wing wizardry and superb dribbling skills in his heydays - is looking forward to strutting his stuff in the 40-minute affair.
The veterans’ game will be played over two halves of 20 minutes and acts as a curtain-raiser to the main event – the Selangor Selection vs Singapore Selection clash.
“I’m definitely pumped up man!” he exclaimed. “I’ve been waiting to get the chance to play in this game since I retired, so I cannot wait to get onto the field already.
“To be able to play in front of such a big crowd at this age is fantastic. The atmosphere’s going to be fun and I’m going to try my best to contribute to the team.”
Photo: Alfie Lee