|Safee Sali with his No.10 jersey after signing contract for another 2 years for Indonesian club, Pelita Jaya FC in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday. - fotoBERNAMA|
PERSONALLY, I wasn't into domestic football as much as I was a decade ago or so. During my school days in Sarawak, I was a proud fan of the Ngap Sayot squad, led by the flamboyant coach, Awang Mahyan Awang Mohamad. Historically speaking, the Ngap Sayot era was a short one.
It was between 1988 to 1990 but the legacy lingers in me and most of my generation. It was when you would come to the stadium as early as 4pm, when the matches only started at 8.45pm. So what do you do for 4 hours? Smoke the Indonesian cigarettes, Djarum Super til you lose your breath and drink as many alcohol you could consumed before entering the venue. By the time the game started, you're all fired up. Since it was a home match, the target for the worst explicit words were meant not only to the opposition team but also match official. Those were fun. Those were the glory days. I didn't replicate it when I was in Anfield, though. LOL
Then there came the shocking story. The football bribery case that shook the nation. I lost interest totally by the middle of 1990's. I watched a few games, because I was a friend of a Sarawakian striker, Ramos Sari. I went to Johor, Melaka and Selangor to watch him play. Then, I just stop going to the stadium or read anything related to Malaysian football.
In 2009, a dear friend from the Suzuki Motors presented me with a free passes for the Suzuki Cup (a.k.a ASEAN Cup) matches held in Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil. The game was Malaysia vs Vietnam. I have no idea what kind of a game I would be looking at, since I have never bothered to watch the domestic league. I didn't know who were the players. I probably heard of the coach. But I went there because I wanted to introduce the football and the stadium atmosphere to my eldest daughter who has been raised solely on the Liverpool FC spirit.
The game produced a 2-0 win for Malaysia, who later played the 2nd leg in Hanoi, to eventually left Vietnam staring at the sky, shocked that they were beaten by a supposedly-weak team of Malaysia.
The 2 goals cushion were scored by Safee Sali. That was one hell of an introduction of Safee to me and many others who were like me, a bit ignorance of the local football scene. No apologies here. It wasn't a choice for us, we just hated been dubbed.
Well, Safee really came good in the two-legged final against Indonesia and the icing on the cake was his solo effort in Jakarta. Malaysia won the Suzuki Cup or also known as the ASEAN Cup.
So who is Safee Sali? A quick search in the Internet, listed Sarawak as one of his previous team. Wow I said to myself. How in the hell did Sarawak managed to get him? And how the hell did Sarawak let him go? Well, that's another story.
Safee made a few enemies among the LFC fans last year after scoring a brace in the 6-3 friendly match between Malaysia and Liverpool FC when they toured this region in July. He was quoted as saying 'he scored the goal because he is a Manchester United fan'. I myself, took it as a direct insult because together with 90,000 fans in the National Stadium, we roared and cheered every time he scored. We see him as the national player, so don't claimed yourself to be our arch enemy. I have since, forgive him for he know not what he has said.
Today, a rather interesting story related to Safee emerged. In fact, it is something that every Malaysian must feel proud of. Today, Safee Sali renewed his contract with Indonesian Super League club Pelita Jaya FC for a two-year term starting today.
The two-year contract package worth RM2 million to Safee who was also installed as the team captain, included numerous other benefits like fixed match bonus, house, car, personal driver, taxes paid by the club, return tickets to Kuala Lumpur.
The new contract is worth double his one-year contract with the club which expired on 31 Jan 2012. Safee's manager Zakaria Rahim said Safee would also receive an additional ”image rights” package for commercial endorsements of products and opportunity to play with any clubs fully owned by the Pelita Jaya Cronus group.
Other Pelita Jaya Cronus fully owned clubs included Brisbane Roar FC in Australia, CS Vise in Belgium and SAD Uruguay in Uruguay.
Pelita Jaya also has close ties with several clubs globally such as five clubs in the Brazilian league, among which is renown Brazilian outfit Flamengo FC and several European clubs, including Ajax Amsterdam FC. Pelita Jaya Cronus once owned English premier league club Leicester City FC, and despite having sold it, still had close ties with the management, he said.
If you don't know, Pelita Jaya is owned by the richest man in Indonesia, one Mr Aburiezal Bakrie who is the leader of Golkar and one of the candidate for the Indonesian presidential election. I'm sure the exploit of Pelita Jaya would be a bonus point for Aburiezal in his upcoming campaign.
Other than Pelita Jaya, Safee also had offers from MuangThong FC and Buriram FC in Thailand and four teams from Malaysia.
Safee also received an offer from Cardiff City FC but turned it down as he had to undergo the process of playing with affiliated clubs to Cardiff City for at least a year.
Safee had offers to undergo tests with five German clubs but had to pass over the golden chance due to injuries and prioritising the national team”s preparation for the Pre World Cup 2011.
Thus, Safee would be the first ever millionaire Malaysian footballer ever in history. He got it not because of other reasons but simply because he is that good in his game. We, Malaysian would like to wish him well.