S.League Golden Boys: The locals strike back, 2007-2011

After three years of seeing the Young Player of the Year Award go to foreigners, Singapore’s promising youngsters stepped up their games during the 2007-2011 period… 

THE UNFULFILLED POTENTIAL: Shariff Samat (2007)

Shariff Samat’s father was prominent ex-Singapore international defender Samad Allapitchay, so it was no surprise when his son followed in his footsteps and attempted to carve out a career in the same vein.

However, Shariff never quite managed to replicate his father’s feat of being the national captain and instead has had a stuttering career.

After surviving a gang attack in 2001, a teenaged Shariff recovered and displayed his obvious talent to earn a contract with the now-defunct Sembawang Rangers two years later.

But his career came to an abrupt halt during the season, after an off-the-ball incident where he punched Geylang defender Peter Bennett in the face. Banned for nine months by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Shariff could only watch from the sidelines the following season.

He was given a lifeline by Home United in 2005 and appeared to have mended his ways to earn a contract with Young Lions a year later.

Joining Tampines in 2007, Shariff flourished after being called upon to provide defensive cover, earning the coveted Young Player of the Year gong. That year, Shariff also was part of Singapore’s under-23 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games squad that earned a bronze medal.

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Things seemed to be going well for the defender until 2011, when he joined Hougang United. Again, despite being a fan favourite at Hougang Stadium, alleged disciplinary issues resurfaced and discouraged the club from renewing his contract.

Forced to watch from the sidelines again, Shariff had to turn to the National Football League (NFL) to continue playing football before joining Tampines on a short-term deal for the second half of 2012.

The defender then made a comeback with Geylang International in 2016 and was even staking his claim for a recall to the national team

He failed to make any impact and was subsequently let go, which proved to be a blessing in disguise as he caught another break, this time with Woodlands Wellington in 2013.

There, Shariff regained his swagger and was a fearless leader under the tutelage of Salim Moin. His performances finally resulted in his one and only cap for Singapore, against Myanmar on June 4, 2013.

Shariff followed his coach Salim to Tampines in 2014 but was sparingly used following the latter’s departure mid-season, and a lack of offers meant he had to turn to the NFL yet again in 2015.

The defender then made a comeback with Geylang International in 2016 and was even staking his claim for a recall to the national team. However, his season was marred when he was jailed two weeks in May for one count of voluntarily causing hurt to his brother-in-law.

Shariff returned to action thereafter but the 33-year-old failed to earn a contract renewal this year and seems set to sit out another S.League season yet again.

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