Yazid Yasin's penalty-saving heroics spark sons’ footballing dreams
It has been nearly 10 years, but Aizil and Aqil Yazid still vividly remember their wild celebrations while watching a cup-winning moment at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
After all, it was that moment that inspired the brothers to become footballers.
It helped, too, that the match-winning save came from their father, Yazid Yasin, who was playing in goal for Geylang United (now known was Geylang International).
Known for his cat-like reflexes, Yazid kept out an 87th-minute penalty to preserve Geylang's 1-0 lead against Thai side Bangkok Glass (now known as BG Pathum United) on that night in November 2009.
It earned him the Man-of-the-Match award and helped Geylang clinch their only Singapore Cup.
It also added to the list of honours garnered by Yazid in a 21-year S.League career, during which he also turned out for Sembawang Rangers, Home United, Woodlands Wellington and Warriors FC.
Now, his sons are hoping to follow in his footsteps.
The pair have been called up to the Singapore Under-15 squad for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) U-15 Championship in Chonburi, Thailand, from Saturday to Aug 9.
Aizil, who is studying at Greenridge Secondary School, is a goalkeeper like his father.
Aqil, who is older by 11 months, plays at centre-back, although he, too, started out as a custodian.
Interestingly, Yazid himself has previously ditched his goalkeeper's gloves - having been deployed in midfield in a 1996 S.League match against Woodlands due to an injury crisis in the Sembawang squad.
Said Aizil, the more soft-spoken of the pair: "Watching my dad, I was inspired to be a 'keeper like him.
"From the start, I knew what I wanted to do and worked hard to achieve it."
Aqil, a Singapore Sports School student, said: "Even though we play in different positions, the discipline and commitment that my dad showed has always motivated us to do the same."
As much as the boys were influenced by their dad's ability between the sticks, they are also hoping to emulate his integrity and discipline.
In 2012, Yazid was hailed for reporting a match-fixing attempt to the authorities, after being offered $6,000 by two former South Korean teammates to throw an S.League match.
Said Aqil: "He has always emphasised to us that no matter what happens in life, we should always keep our feet firmly on the ground and be honest in everything we do, be humble, keep working hard and eventually good things will come."
When asked if they are aiming to play in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) one day and make their father proud, Aizil said: "Playing in the SPL would be a dream for us, but I think even better would be if we could surprise him and play in an even higher league."
Yazid, 40, who is coaching in a private academy, told The New Paper that he was "very proud" of his sons' progress.
"I am definitely proud that they were inspired. But both of them are really hardworking and train very hard," he said.
"It's all up to them.
"I will always support them from behind the scenes.
"I have always told them - always work hard and one day, people will notice you." - DEEPANRAJ GANESAN