Today, Mohd Faiz Subri will know whether he needs to ask the best tailor in town to make a tuxedo for the most amazing day of his life, and book a plane ticket to a realm beyond his wildest dream.
Today is the day for Fifa, the international governing body of football, to announce the three finalists among 10 contenders for the Puskas award, which hails the best goal in the world for 2016.
On Nov 21, the hitherto little known Faiz made Malaysians sit up and take notice of him when his wonder goal was among the 10 shortlisted by Fifa out of thousands of entries.
If the 28-year-old from Air Hitam, Kedah, makes the final three, he will be invited to the Oscars of football, the star-studded Fifa awards in Zurich on Jan 9 next year.
The beauty of this award is that everyone can have a say, as Fifa is letting the fans decide — whoever they are, wherever part of the world they are in — vote online to decide the three finalists and also the eventual winner.
And surprise, surprise, Faiz is very much in contention for the Puskas award, based on global feedback.
Faiz's fantasy goal happened on Feb 16 when he was playing for Penang against Pahang in a Super League match. Just after 10pm at the City Stadium, the ball from his 30-metre free kick rose high above a two-player wall, swerved before dipping into the Pahang goalmouth like a guided cruise missile.
Triggered by YouTube, the physics-defying shot must have lodged itself in the minds of many people, inside and outside Malaysia. It’s a classic case of how sport can transcend race, religion, culture and national borders.
And in Europe itself, Faiz, the only Asian to make the Fifa’s top 10, is proving to be a hit. The Malaysian even made the No. 1 spot when Eurosport, a TV and media firm whose news channel reaches out to 11 million homes in 54 countries, held a poll to see which goal should win the Puskas award.
From the Eurosport poll, Faiz garnered 2,800 votes, putting him well ahead of second placed Lionel Messi (1,500 votes), arguably the greatest player on the planet. Wales’ Hal Robson-Kanu was third with 1,200 while the great Neymar was fourth with 800. The other six contenders who fared way below Faiz in the Eurosport poll were Saul Niguez and Mario Gaspar (Spain), Simon Skrabb (Finland), Hlompho Kekana (South Africa), Marlone (Brazil) and Daniuska Rodriguez (Venezuela). The admiration of a global audience also saw Faiz surge ahead of his rivals on YouTube with his goal viewed 1,283,202 times (as this column was being written).
Faiz’s feat couldn’t have come at a better time as it really lifted the spirits of Malaysian fans who felt so let down by the impotent national team which suffered yet another humiliation in the recent Asian Football Federation Cup in Myanmar.
A former house painter who once struggled to make ends meet, Faiz has certainly repainted the country’s pride in the colour of a new glow.
Faiz, you are already in the same league with Messi and Neymar in the Puskas field. And now, you can even be better than them if you score more with a global audience.
On behalf of Malaysia and on behalf of the New Straits Times, I wish you all the best. And I hope to see you running to the tailor.
NST deputy sports editor Chan Wai Kong sees life differently after waking up from a coma following a car accident in Vancouver