A hero's welcome for Faiz

By DEVINDER SINGH - 11 January 2017 @ 6:48 PM

SEPANG: Fifa Puskas Award winner Faiz Subri returned home from Zurich to a rapturous welcome on today and vowed to recapture the form which saw him score an incredible goal last year.

Faiz, 29, became the first Malaysian to win Fifa's best goal award on Monday, an achievement which was recognised by the Malaysian Book of Records.

Parading the Fifa award in front of 500 fans at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Faiz was overwhelmed by the support he received.

“A millions thanks to all Malaysians who voted and supported me and the media which promoted the voting for me,” said Faiz, after he was presented to the media upon landing.

“This award is not just for me but for all Malaysians.”

Faiz, who has yet to score another goal since the ‘physics-defying’ free-kick against Pahang in a Super League match in February last year, said his only concern now is to return to training and regain his play in Penang’s starting line-up after spending a chunk of the 2016 season recovering from injury.

“I just want to do my best for Penang,” said the winger.

“Whether I score another free-kick like that is down to fate. I will practice and try my hardest to make it happen.”

For his effort, Faiz received a RM100,000 reward from the Youth and Sports Ministry while the Football Association of Malaysia added another RM50,000.

“On the government’s behalf, I congratulate Faiz on his extraordinary achievement,” said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

“This is the first time a Malaysian footballer has won this award for the best goal.

“All Malaysians are proud of his achievement. It is thanks to Faiz that Malaysia’s name is flying high.”

Khairy also came to Faiz’s defence after the player received criticism for making his acceptance speech in English.

“Those are trivial criticisms,” he said.

“We have to look at the recognition Faiz brought to Malaysia. They (critics) can’t match his achievement.”

Faiz left for Penang immediately after meeting his fans and is expected to be back in training on Thursday.

Malaysian football player Mohd Faiz Subri (R), an attacking midfielder for Penang FA in the Malaysian Super League, greets well-wishers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on January 11, 2017 following his arrival from Zurich where he won the 2016 FIFA Puskas Award. Faiz, a midfielder for Penang state in the Malaysian Super League, arrived from Zurich where he received on January 9 the FIFA Puskas Award for best goal of the year for an extraordinary swerving free-kick from 35 metres that he scored against Pahang state in February 2016. (AFP photo)