They were once some of the top footballers of their time. But even though they may have retired, football remains in their blood. Meet these ex-internationals and their next generation of young footballers - sons and daughters of former national players who are keen to go one better than mommy and daddy did.
Mention Yazid Yasin and the first thing that comes to mind is how difficult it was to score against the former national goalkeeper.
Yazid may have only been 1.69m tall, but what he lacked in height, he more than made up for with his agility and shot-stopping ability.
And although the 44-year-old is now retired, his children are making sure the Yazid name continues to be a headache for strikers.
Meet Aqil Yazid, 19, and Aizil Yazid, 18, a defender and a goalkeeper respectively who have donned national colours at the youth level and are hoping to emulate their father’s illustrious career.
Yazid (centre) is hoping his sons Aizil (left) and Aqil (right) can carry on the family name and make it to the Singapore national football team one day. PHOTO: Ng Chrong Meng
Dad Yazid is one of Singapore football’s icons. Since making his professional debut as a 16-year-old, he has gone on to be one of the few footballers to have won every piece of silverware in his 21-year career in the Singapore domestic league.
One of his most famous saves came in the 2009 Singapore Cup final against Bangkok Glass. He saved an 87th-minute penalty to ensure a 1-0 win for Geylang United. His heroics earned him a Man-of-the-Match award and Geylang the Singapore Cup.
Sitting in the stands, Aqil and Aizil, who are 11 months apart, were so inspired by daddy’s performance that they were convinced that they too wanted to be footballers.
“Our dad is a constant inspiration to us,” said Aqil, who plays for Balestier Khalsa in the Singapore Premier League. PHOTO: Ng Chrong Meng
Beyond just being a former national player, Yazid, who is now a goalkeeper coach at Balestier Khalsa, takes time out to mentor his sons.
Added Aqil: “Whenever we have any problems or challenges, we can just turn to him for advice and he will happily give it to us.”
Both Aqil and Aizil have dreams of also making it to the national team.
Said goalkeeper Aizil, who plays for the Young Lions in the SPL: “We push each other, sometimes even comparing each other’s performances, which can be a good thing.” PHOTO: Ng Chrong Meng
Both acknowledge that they have a long way to go. But along with dad’s help, the pair are hopeful they can also put on the Lions jersey one day.
Both brothers got their football start when Yazid took them to parks on the weekends to spend time with the family and play football. It was during those games that Yazid observed that both were quite good.
As a result, both boys began playing football in primary school and soon joined the Cosmo United Football Academy (CUFA) before being spotted for the Singapore Sports School.
Both Aqil and Aizil learned the virtues of order, diligence, humility, and responsibility while growing up under Yazid. They saw Yazid's values as essential and what got them through both good and bad times. In Singapore, being a professional athlete meant balancing football and academics. And because the family was always there for one another, it was those challenges that drew them closer together.
Aizil practising his routine with his dad and brother. PHOTO: Ng Chrong Meng
Yazid is optimistic that both boys are on the right path to a professional football career. And according to dad, both sons already have better attributes than he had.
For one, both are taller: Aqil is 1.75m while Aizil is 1.77m. Football-ability wise, version 2.0 is also superior.
Said Yazid: “l think my kids have got more talent compared to me when I was their age.
“All l had at that age was pure hard work and no distractions - no mobile phones, no computer games, etc - just football.”
Yazid reminiscing about his football journey. PHOTO: Ng Chrong Meng
Daddy has spoken. Looks like if Aqil and Azil want to follow in Daddy’s footsteps, they have to focus more on football, just like he did.
Story by Mas Hidayat