GEORGE TOWN: Mohd Faiz Subri, who won the prestigious Puskas Award at the FIFA Football Awards 2016, was given a hero’s welcome by hundreds of Penang and Kedah fans tonight.
The Penang striker arrived at the Penang International Airport at 9.15pm accompanied by his wife Norzawanis Hashim, 29, and children, Akif Fayyadh, 4, and Muhammad Aqil Zayyan, 8-month-old.
On hand to greet him were his parents Subri Kader, 64, and Sa’diah Ishak, 55, as well as siblings and other relatives. Sa’diah gave her son a hug and a kiss.
Also present were Football Association of Penang (FAP) president Datuk Seri Nazir Ariff, team manager Zairil Khir Johari and representatives from the state government.
A ‘doa selamat’ was recited as soon as he stepped out of the arrival hall and family members presented him with a bouquet of flowers.
When he stepped out to meet his fans, chants of “Haria Penang Haria” and “Faiz, Faiz” rang out loud.
They also carried him up and sang the Negaraku and the Penang state anthem.
Fans were also seen holding up banners with various congratulatory messages, which among others read, “Anak Kedah di mata dunia” (Kedah’s native in the eyes of the world) and “Tahniah Faiz Subri” (Congratulations Faiz Subri).
When met, Sa’diah said all of Faiz’s siblings and relatives were excited to meet and congratulate him following his win.
“It (his win) was very unexpected. As his family, we couldn’t be happier,” she said.
Earlier in Sepang, Faiz arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 3.30 pm from Zurich via Dubai and received an equally victorious welcome.
Fans of all ages turned up to show their support and some, like 17-year-old Hakimi Salleh from Nilai, looked for a chance to take a selfie with Faiz.
Hakimi said Faiz’s achievement will push him to train even harder and gain recognition for himself.
The teen, currently attached to the National Football Development Programme ( NFDP), said Faiz’s achievement will give the Malaysian football scene a new hope.
NFDP coordinator Faiz Redzuan had brought some 50 students from the programme to meet with the footballer today, stating that his achievement will be the stepping stone to many other successes in the industry.
“The boys under this programme are thrilled by Faiz’s win, and are motivated to perform well in the under-17 World Cup qualifier this year,” he added.
He also advised Malaysians to refrain from making negative comments on Faiz’s command of English as well as his attire.
“Unless they have won an international award, they have no rights to condemn and criticise Faiz,” he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, NurIntan Baizura Nordin, 37, from Johor said Malaysians have to be more sensitive in making comments about others on social media.
“He made the country proud and the least we can do is to spare him from negative comments,” she said.
As for Faiz’s wife, Norzawanis said she will continue to motivate her husband to achieve greater success in football.
“My husband has always been passionate about football and I’ve given my word to him to always standby him and support him,” she said.
Faiz's ‘physics-defying’ goal which came courtesy of a 4-1 win against Pahang, was among the three finalists nominated for the Puskas Award.
The other two contenders for the award of the most beautiful goal for 2016 were that of Jonath Marlone Azevedo da Silva of Brazil and female player Danisuka Rodriguez of Venezuela.
The award was first won by Ronaldo in 2009.