Faiz’s spellbinding goal lands him Fifa Puskas Award

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Kuala Lumpur
– Malaysia’s Mohd Faiz Subri has netted the FIFA Puskas Award for the most beautiful goal of 2016, putting his name on the same list as past winners such as famed football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

The 29-year-old player was handed the award for his spellbinding freekick at a glittering ceremony in Zurich on Monday (early Tuesday in Malaysia) as he brought joy to millions of Malaysians thousands of kilometres away from the wintry conditions of the lakeside Swiss city.

Mohd Faiz also created history as the first Asian to be bestowed the gong named after Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarian football legend who enjoyed huge success with Real Madrid during the 1950s and 60s as well as his national team.

“Honestly, it has never crossed my mind that I would arrive at this level and be able to stand tall among world-class footballers in this amazing place,” the Penang striker said after receiving the award.

Kedah-born Mohd Faiz received his gong during The Best FIFA Football Awards 2016 that was broadcast around the globe and live-streamed on the Internet from the Technology and Production Centre Switzerland.

Mohd Faiz, who garnered 59.46 per cent of the votes, thanked a host of people including his team, family and fans for their support.

“To the FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) and FMLLP (Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership), I owe so much to you for submitting my goal (to FIFA) for evaluation,” he said.

The Malaysian footballer pipped Brazil’s Johnath Marlone Azevedo da Silva (22.86 per cent of votes) and Venezuela’s woman player Daniuska Rodriguez (10.01 per cent) to the award, first won by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

The award was presented to Mohd Faiz by former Brazilian football great Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo also clinched The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award in Zurich.

Mohd Faiz was the architect of what has been described as a physics-defying swerving goal against Pahang in the Malaysian Super League match on Feb 16, so spectacular that it catapulted him to international recognition.

The ball was heading towards one corner but ended up deceptively in the other, leaving the Pahang goalkeeper – and football fans – dumbfounded.

Mohd Faiz described his win as a dream becoming a reality besides being fortunate to be able to be with football greats in Zurich.

Even though yet to don the national jersey, his is very proud that he was able to bring glory for Malaysia.

“I am grateful to have won, I wish thank all who voted for me in Malaysia and throughout the world. Not forgetting my family, coaches and the Penang team.

“Without their support, this win would not be possible because the other candidates in the running also scored great goals,” he told Bernama.

He said being the first Asian to win the Puskas Award was a career defining moment for him.

The goal, he stressed, was not pure luck but due to hours of practice each day.

Mohd Faiz added the success was a source of inspiration for him in conjunction with the new year to further hone his footballing skills in the years to come.

After Portugal’s Ronaldo, the Puskas Award was won by Turkey’s Hamit Altintop (2010), Brazil’s Neymar (2011), Miroslav Stoch of Slovakia (2012), Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2013) and James Rodriguez from Colombia (2014).

A virtually unknown player from Brazil, Wendell Lira, took home the 2015 award.

The shortlist comprising Mohd Faiz, Marlone and Rodriguez was whittled down from an original 10 goals.

Meanwhile, Mohd Faiz’s wife Norzanis Hashim, who accompanied him to Zurich, told Bernama:”Athough I was not at the awards’ venue tonight, I was with him in spirit and prayed for his success.

“As soon as his name was announced as the winner, I was very thankful that the prayers of Malaysians for his success were answered,” she said. – Bernama