This young Eagle is flying high
Midfielder Noor Ariff shows plenty of promise but remains coy over turning pro
|HOUGANG UNITED||GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL|
He has the potential to be the complete midfielder that Singapore football has not seen in some time.
Fast, strong in the air and committed in the tackle, Noor Ariff seems like a hark back to central midfielders of yesteryear - patrolling around the centre circle and bombing passes down the wings.
The Geylang International midfielder already has five first-team appearances under his belt this season.
With his passing range, accurate deliveries from set-pieces and ability to strike at goal from long distance, the 18-year-old should earn his sixth appearance for the Eagles tomorrow when they face Hougang United in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at the Hougang Stadium.
He vividly remembers the butterflies in his stomach the first time he stepped out for Geylang's first team.
"I was shocked when (Geylang) coach Noor Ali told me that I was going to start for the first team," said Noor, as he recalled the training session before Geylang's 2-0 win over Balestier Khasa in The New Paper League Cup last month.
"He told me this during a training session, and I just looked at him.
"I remember him saying that my duty is just to work hard, and keep things simple.
"I remember walking out with the rest of the team, and I was nervous but feeling good - I don't know if that makes sense.
"I took 10 to 15 minutes to get a feel of the game but, after that, it was as per normal, just tried to play to my strength.
"It wasn't so bad."
His star may be rising, but the soft-spoken teenager, who models his game after Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, may not pursue a professional career in football.
"I want to play for the club until I go into (full-time) national service. After that, I want to focus on my studies and find a job (in the engineering sector)," said the electrical technology student at the ITE College East.
"I'm not sure if I want to play football professionally, but I think getting a stable job is the better thing to do."
Noor, however, clearly enjoys the training sessions with Geylang and gaining valuable experience playing alongside established names - such as Isa Halim and Faritz Hameed - in the Geylang stable.
"The level in the S.League is quite high, but I feel quite comfortable. It was clear that physically I had to work harder than I did in the Prime League," he said.
"It's definitely fun. The first time I came to train under coach Noor Ali, it was hard to cope with his tactics," he added with a smile.
"I didn't understand what he wanted from me, but I have since learnt, and now it's really comfortable playing here.
"I enjoy playing with national players. It's a good experience and I learned a little from every one of them,
"I enjoy playing football with this team. We've been together for 1½ years now, and it's been great fun.
"But I'm not thinking far ahead into the future at this point."
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