Izwan Mahbud’s Phenomenal Rise to Fame
The young 19yrs old Goalkeeper was called up to the National Team and had been given the responsibility to stand in between the goal against Singapore's arch rival, Malaysia. Just when the entire Nation was
The young 19yrs old Goalkeeper was called up to the National Team and had been given the responsibility to stand in between the goal against Singapore’s arch rival, Malaysia. Just when the entire Nation was wondering who this player was, he impressed and convinced everyone with his outstanding performance. To an extent, not only did he ensure Singaporeans know his name, the whole of Japan and the World knows his name. Junpiter Futbol sits down with this young Goalkeeper and talks about his football stories thus far.
JPF: You became an instant YouTube sensation after Japan’s match, how do you cope with that sudden worldwide attention?
IM: Nothing really changed much as everything was just the same as before. I just carried on with my usual training. Of course, people started to approach me and asked if I have received any overseas offers but I was so involved with LionsXII in the Malaysia Cup, I did not think too much of that either.
JPF: What actually went through your mind during the Japan x Singapore game in Saitama where you literally secured that famous 0-0 draw single-handedly for Singapore?
IM: I was feeling very nervous playing against the Asian powerhouse. I did gain confidence as we played on in the game but I was still feeling extremely nervous. Probably, one of the reasons was I had been experiencing too many late goals with the LionsXII during the same period of time when we played Japan. That probably explained the nervousness in me. So throughout the game, I tried to keep myself calm and focused on the game.
JPF: Overseas football opportunity did come eventually as you were invited for a 1-week trial with J.League outfit, Matsumoto Yamaga FC. Tell us more about that experience.
IM: It was actually quite a short trial considering that I only trained with the team for 2-3 days, followed by a match then it was off-season for the team. I think it was too short of a time for me to impress anybody. Then again, I was really impressed with the way the team worked, their system, culture and their players’ ethics. As a foreign player there, I tried to raise my game to be on par with them too. By the way, do you know that fans actually turn up at the team’s trainings and most of the times, the fans will already be there waiting before the players arrive for training! (JPF: How about your meals there?) It’s impossible to get any Halal food but luckily I brought sufficient cup noodles! Haha!
JPF: So what was that one thing which you could take away from this J.League experience?
IM: Discipline. Training in Yamaga started at 5.30pm, all players were required to report at the club by 5pm but most, or if not all of the players would have already arrived at the club at 4pm. I also noticed the younger players would also take initiative to pump all the boys prior to the training session too. No player would wait for the fitness coach, they would just start doing their warming up and stretching before the training commenced. After the training, most of the senior players would do their own jogging and some of the players would continue to train at their own.
JPF: You had your first called-up to the National Team in year 2011 when first choice goalkeeper, Lionel Lewis was injured.
IM: I was in shock and extremely nervous when I knew I was going to be the one playing. I was not actually in the National Team but was just invited by Goalkeeper Coach, Mr. Lee Bee Seng to train with the team. So when I knew Coach Raddy (Radojko Avramovic) and Bee Seng had the confidence in me, I just went out to do my best and tried to play my normal game.
JPF: What do you think of Singapore’s chance at the AFF Suzuki Cup taking place at the end of the year?
IM: We are not sure of our opponent yet but I think our main objective is to qualify from the group and take 1 game at a time. Of course, Thailand & Vietnam are still our strongest opponents that I hope we can avoid. And especially Thailand, they have been enjoying some victories against big teams this year so naturally their confidence and morale are high. With that, they are a more superior team at the moment.
JPF: Hassan Sunny has been doing extremely well in the Thai League. Do you feel threatened or fear of losing the first team spot in the National Team?
IM: We are good friends and there will only be healthy competition between us. No matter who is picked, we always support each others. Last year, I played nearly all the games for the World Cup Qualifiers, Hassan supported and encouraged me all the way.
JPF: You have won the Malaysia Super League in 2013 and Malaysia FA Cup in 2015 with LionsXII, which one has to be the most memorable?
IM: AFF Suzuki Cup in 2012. (JPF: None of the above with LionsXII?) No. AFF Suzuki Cup’s trophy is my first major trophy especially the year 2012 was not really the best footballing year I had. I had got bad injuries and struggled to get back to where I was before. And I am extremely glad that I could end the year 2012 with such a great triumph for Singapore. No doubt, that’s the most memorable one.
JPF: Apart from Young Lions & LionsXII, Tampines Rovers is considered your first club. Tell us more about your life in Tampines Rovers and your teammates.
IM: Most of my current teammates are from LionsXII as well so I am feeling quite at ease here in Tampines Rovers. However, as I am still not feeling as fit as last year, so I am working hard to get back to my 100%.
JPF: Why goalkeeper?
IM: During my school days, I was actually a striker! Then during one of the tournaments, my team did not have a goalkeeper. I didn’t know why but I volunteered to be the goalkeeper. That was a game against Home United Academy. Eventually, we lost the game in the penalty shoot out but I did well in my goalkeeper position. Thereafter, Coach Yacob (Hashim) approached me, days later Coach Kadir (Yahaya) called and invited me to join his team for training. So from that day onward, it’s goalkeeper.
JPF: In your opinion, what is a definition of a good goalkeeper?
IM: A good goalkeeper not only must have good reflexes and good physique, he has to be a good football player with his feet. In these modern days of football, all attacks started from the back. So you really need to have a good goalkeeper who must know how to control the pass the ball and distribute the ball from the back. (JPF: Examples of goalkeepers whom you admired?) David de Gea and Joe Hart!
JPF: As we all know, goalkeeper’s training is tedious and physical demanding. How do you cope with those trainings?
IM: I do follow a set of dietary to control my food intake as we have to keep to a certain body fats percentage in the National Team. During training, I keep myself fully hydrated with sports drink, Gatorade. Sports drink like Gatorade contains sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which can help to replace what we lose during longer duration exercise, especially in the heat.
JPF: What is your dream?
IM: As a footballer, my dream is to play overseas. Not many local footballers have such opportunities and I really hope that one of these days I can play in an overseas league. As of now, I really wish that we can do well in the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of the year and also do well in the Asian Cup qualifiers. We do have a good chance of qualifying for the Asian Cup final for the first time so all of us have to work hard.
JPF: Who is your best mate and tell us one secret about him.
IM: Hahaha…. (wicked laugh) Nazrul Nazari (Hougang United)! He has always been my roommate since LionsXII days and he always has this problem – he can’t wake up in the morning! Every time, I have to be the one to wake him up! Another one, Fazli Ayob (Balestier Khalsa). He likes to sleep but hard to wake up too!
This Interview is made possible by Gatorade Singapore. Hydrate like a pro with a not-for-sale 32oz Gatorade bottle. It comes free with each purchase of a 521g Gatorade Instant Powder Mix. Only at Giant Hypermart and selected Cold Storage outlets, while stocks last.