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Indra:"I just hope things will be better in Singapore football"

An end of an era, as Indra retires
It was only a brief one-liner in a recent article that confirmed the retirement of another former Singapore captain - Indra Sahdan Daud, from professional football.

The 35-year-old former goal poacher is probably one of the few players I witnessed the rise to prominence till the day that pair of boots were hung.

Indra first came to my notice when he alongside with some of his peers (i.e.: Ahmad Latiff, Yazid Yasin, etc.) starred in the Lion City Cup at the old Jalan Besar Stadium in 1995 and led the team to victory that year.

Two years later, I was there at the old National Stadium to see the then up-and-coming making his international debut against Kuwait (26 April 1997) when he came on a substitute and thrilled the crowds with his pace that rejuvenated life back to a dull game.

Indra played for Sengkang in 2009

Since then, it was no looking back with him went on to build a legacy of his own by churning out impressive statistics with various S.League sides like Police FC (later known as Home United), Geylang United, SAFFC and collected club and personal accolades in a league career that spanned 18 years.

"We all know Indra had the unbuyable and some say uncoachable talent of scoring goals," said Steve Darby, who coached the two-time AFF championship winner during his stint with Home United between 2002 to 2005.

"He had magnificent speed over ten metres and was deadly in the box, while he may be the worst aerobic athlete in the team then for couldn't run ten kilometres, but who cared when he scored match-winning goals like he did in 2003 and 2005 (Singapore) Cup finals." opined the Englishman who is currently the assistant coach with Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC.

It was widely considered Indra hit the pinnacle of his career when he landed an annual paycheck of $100,000 when he inked a three-year extension with Home United in 2005 that paid him the highest-paid local player who by then had established a reputation of scoring goals against much stronger opponents like Manchester United, Uruguay and Japan.

Although things weren't always smooth sailing for the Lions centurion when I witnessed in horror had he collapsed in agony after injuring the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his left knee in an international fixture against Malaysia at Kallang in May 2006.

Follow that there were various attempts to venture overseas with him came close to bag a contract with MLS side Real Salt Lake in 2008, when he was invited to join them in a pre-season tour in Argentina that ended empty-handed in the end.

Indra (17) in action for SAFFC in 2011
A move to then minnows Sengkang Punggol in 2009 caused quite a sensation in the scene, after futile efforts to land a contract in the Vietnamese league before switched over to SAFFC a year later to be part of then Warriors' coach Richard Bok's Asian Champions League (ACL) plan.

It was with the Rhinos that saw Indra hit another personal milestone - scoring his 200th goal in domestic competitions against Woodlands Wellington on May 2011, however, it was the same year that saw him left Choa Chu Kang when the season ended.

Into the twilight zone of his career, saw the veteran striker back with the Protectors for the past three years and more surprisingly was the recall by national coach Bernd Stange last year after he first announced his international retirement in 2010.

Indra posed for this shot at warming up
"I just hope things will be better in Singapore football, as for me it is a satisfaction for being able to do something I like the most,"said Indra in an email interview with this blogger, as he reflected the years he spent in the local football scene.

"Also the opportunities to travel around the world and get to meet a lot of people, be it playing in the S.League at home or travel away to play overseas."

"I guess the only regret I have is not able to secure a contract when I was in the States , but I can tell myself, at least, I did try to play outside of Singapore in a faraway land." citing the inability to earn himself a contract with MLS club Real Salt Lake in 2008.


Despite that setback, the then 29-year-old had proved age is not an issue for anyone keen to venture outside Singapore, especially out of South East Asia.

Said Indra:"Usually, foreign clubs would prefer younger players, but it had proven age was not a factor when I was offered a trial (with Real Salt Lake), rather it is more on the mental side of things that one must be prepared to be in a new environment and meet new people."

Indra scored a goal after a long layoff in AFC Cup in April
Indeed, words of wisdom from the man who given his all to the local game with his retirement symbolize a closing of a chapter and will missed by those who worked with him, as illustrated in Coach Darby's words.

"A credit to the Singapore game and will be sorely missed. I enjoyed him as both a person and a footballer,

"Off the pitch he was always bouncy, positive and an asset in the dressing room." added the former Thailand national assistant coach.


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