SELANGOR player Brendan Gan admits that he doesn’t like to be categorised as a “naturalised player” for the national team.
The Sydney-born midfielder, whose father was from Seremban, insists he should be considered as a “heritage player”, given his bloodline.
Gan said this yesterday as netizens have always called him a naturalised player.
Born to a Malaysian father and an Australian mother, Gan, who was granted Malaysian citizenship in 2013, earned his first international cap when he played against Saudi Arabia in a pre-World Cup match in 2016.
The 31-year-old is among the pioneer group of players with “Malaysian heritage” to qualify as national players and come under Fifa’s naturalised players category.
However, Gan admitted he’s not fond of being labelled a naturalised player.
“I’m not ‘naturalised’ because of my father.
“I have always been eligible for an IC (identity card) and (Malaysian) passport with my dad being in Seremban and all.
“I don’t think I can fit into the same boat as Liridon (Krasniqi) or even (Mohamadou) Sumareh, who has lived here his whole life,” he said.
“It’s always nice to have someone who knows the culture, people and Malaysian football. I think it’s very important for a naturalised player to have that.
“For me, I don’t put myself in that category.
“I’ve been here (Malaysia) many times as a young boy and I feel like I give my heart and soul for this country, on and off the field.”
Gan’s “heritage” falls under Fifa’s rules of having an ancestral tie to the country and he has been playing in the M-League since 2012 with Sabah before leaving in 2013 for Australia’s Rockdale City Suns.
Gan came back to the M-League in 2014 where he played with Kelantan and Perak before signing for Selangor this season under coach B. Satiananthan.
The former Sydney FC footballer shone for Malaysia in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers.
Gan caught the imagination of fans in the 2-1 win against Thailand where he scored his first international goal and assisted in the second.
On Kosovo-born Krasniqi being the latest to become Malaysia’s naturalised player, Gan feels
that donning the national jersey is not just about obtaining a passport.
“Some can come here at 32, 33 or 34 years old for the fact that they want a passport and not to play for the country,” he said.
“You should be willing to work, put your heart and soul on the pitch for the country and not just for the passport.”
Krasniqi, 28, became a Malaysian citizen on Feb 3 after receiving his MyKad from the National Registration Department.