PETALING JAYA - Faiz Subri has made Malaysia proud.
The 29-year-old created history this morning when he was named the winner of the Puskas Award for the best goal at the Best FIFA Football Awards 2016 in Zurich. He is the first Asian to win the award.
Faiz's physics-defying goal in the 4-1 win against Pahang in a Super League match at the City Stadium in Georgetown on Feb 16 last year garnered 59.46 per cent online votes. He finished way ahead of the other two finalists.
Brazilian Marlone could only manage 22.86 per cent while Venezuelan woman player Daniuska Rodriguez had 10.01 per cent.
Faiz, who received the award from Brazilian legend Ronaldo, took a couple of minutes to compose himself before reading out his acceptance speech from his phone.
"I need to thank my team, the Penang Football Association, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), coaches, team-mates and my family," said Faiz who wore a tuxedo instead of the baju Melayu that he brought to Zurich.
The Puskas Award was introduced in 2009 to recognise the best goal of the year. Faiz thus joined an elite band of players to win the award. The previous famous names to win the award were Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (2009), Brazilian Neymar (2011), Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden (2013) and Colombian James Rodriguez (2014).
Faiz's family stayed up to watch the live telecast on television. About 200 people also gathered at the residence of Subri Kadir, Faiz's father, in Kampung Pida 6 in Ayer Hitam, Kedah, to watch on a giant screen of the historic moment.
Despite the wee hours, there was an air of carnival at the village. The villagers had started arriving from as early as 9pm yesterday and were served with nasi lemak, kuih, syrup and coffee as they waited for the start of the ceremony at 1.30am.
The crowd cheered each time Faiz's goal was shown during the ceremony.
And when Faiz was named the winner there was a loud roar.
Subri was elated with his son's achievement. "All his hard work has paid off. I am proud of my son. I am thankful to God for making our dreams a reality," said Subri.
"Faiz should not be contented with this win. He should aim for more success. I want him to do it again. Score another goal like that to prove to everyone how good he really is."
Saadiah Ishak, Faiz's mother, was in tears as she watched her son receive the award. "Syukur Alhamdulilah, I am very proud of my son. He always wanted to achieve big things in football, and today, he can stand tall."
I was so nervous, says Faiz
IFA Puskas Award winner Faiz Subri has thanked Malaysians for their prayers and support following his victory in Zurich, Switzerland, adding that he was a little nervous when his name was called out.
"I was a bit nervous at first but now I feel elated," he said when interviewed by FIFATV on Tuesday on the award which is handed out for the most beautiful goal in the world.
Faiz spoke in Bahasa Malaysia during the interview, with Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah acting as the interpreter.
On Twitter, Faiz also shared a snap of his acceptance speech with the caption: "I'm so nervous, lucky I can find this on my cellphone."
The player had made the audience in Zurich wait as he searched for the prepared speech on his phone.
In his acceptance speech, the footballer said it had never crossed his mind that he would arrive at this level and "be able to stand tall amongst the world class footballers in this amazing place".
In another tweet, Faiz posted a selfie with Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo with the caption: "Finally, another dream come true, with THE BEST @Cristiano".
He also shared photos with Germany captain Manuel Neuer and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.