MALAYSIAN football fans woke up to the news that their countryman had won FIFA’s goal of the year award for his extraordinary swerving free-kick.
Midfielder Mohamad Faiz Subri’s cracker for Penang state in the Malaysian Super League in February, reminiscent of the swerving thunderbolt by Brazil’s Roberto Carlos against France in 1997, received almost 60 percent of the global vote on the FIFA website.
Cristiano Ronaldo claimed FIFA’s inaugural best player of the year award, the latest prize for the Real Madrid and Portugal star after a glittering 2016 for club and country. Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri received the best men’s coach award following his side’s fairytale Premier League triumph.
Dressed in a tuxedo, Faiz thanked his coach, team and his family as he accepted the accolade at the star-studded FIFA awards ceremony in Zurich on Monday night, the first Asian to win the famous Puskas Award.
“Honestly, it never crossed my mind that I would arrive at this level and be able to stand tall among world class footballers in this amazing place,” he said.
There was a light-hearted moment when the player fumbled with his phone on stage as he was searching for his speech. Co-host Hollywood star Eva Longoria playfully quipped: “He’s checking his text” to laughter from the crowd.
On Instagram, Faiz posted a picture of himself with Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson and tweeted another with Ronaldo,
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak led the tributes. “Congratulations... your success in winning the award will bring inspiration to Malaysian footballers,” he wrote on his Facebook page.