Australian centre-back Adam Griffiths is a well-travelled player. He has played for 15 clubs all over the world, and featured eight times for the Australian national team throughout his career. Last April he signed for Selangor during the mid-season transfer window. Although Australian import footballers were a staple of Malaysian football during the 90's with the likes of Abbas Saad and Scott Ollerenshaw lighting up the league for their respective teams, these days Australian players rarely make Malaysian clubs a stop in their career, preferring Japan, South Korea or Europe.
On the day of the interview, he turned up just a few minutes later than Goal, dressed in a green shirt, a pair of jean shorts and a cap with the bill turned backwards. After the customary pleasantries, he offered to get me coffee. No right-minded Malaysian would turn down free food or drinks, and this reporter duly said yes. Sitting down at a relatively quiet spot in the cafe, I asked whether he was not scheduled for training afterwards, seeing how it was a little late in the afternoon. He responded that due to the bad haze, the Selangor head coach Irfan Bakti had given his players a day off.
Goal: How has everyone at Selangor been treating you since your arrival in April?
Adam Griffiths: They have made me feel very welcome and it is great to be at Selangor. Of course when I was told that an offer had come from the best team in Malaysia, I said I didn't want to join any other team. The coach is also very positive, a great motivator to the players and he has the attitude of a winner.
G: What are the differences you see in how the game is being run in Malaysia, than in the previous countries you've played in?
A: For starters, Malaysian players are very good technically despite their smaller stature, which is good. Modern football is not about size and physicality anymore. Just look at Spain and Barcelona, their players are not big by any measurements. Take Australia for example, among the most common criticism levelled at my country's national team is their over-reliance on physicality.
G: How about the management? Do you feel as if some things are lacking with how it is being run over here?
A: I would not blame it on the management. Football clubs are very expensive to run. You need the right facilities and experts, and they don't come cheap. Furthermore, Malaysia is a developing country. I've played in Saudi Arabia before, and I felt as if a lot more could have been done with the size of funds that they have.
But for me personally, I find it easier to enjoy playing football for Selangor. And the coach, he is laid back, very much like Australians.
G: What do you think about your team-mates?
A: They are fantastic, hardworking and positive. Forkey Doe is fast and strong, but I think Raimi would be a prize for any coach to have in his team. And Amri Yahyah, I am amazed at how experienced he is, how determined he is to win every match, yet at the same time he is able to enjoy playing football.
I also enjoy partnering up with Bunyamin at the back, it's such a shame he is now injured. But Eric (Nasriq Baharum) has been more than up to the task to shoulder the responsibilities left behind by Bun.
G: You've talked about your own team-mates. What about the players of the teams you went up against, after the six or so matches you've played for Selangor? Who is the toughest?
A: Hands down, it has to be Perak's Paulo Rangel in our 2-2 draw at Shah Alam. He was a handful. Not only he has the necessary skills, but also vision.
G: How do you try to adapt to this new playing field, and do you think your age makes it a little challenging for you? Do you intend to extend your contract with Selangor next season?
A:For starters, I do a bit of pilates and yoga on my own time to ensure I am fit for football. Secondly, I don't see how age has anything to do with it. Look at David Beckham, he had only recently retired. Ryan Giggs is still playing for Manchester United at the age of 39. And in MSL, we have ATM's Marlon James. He's 37 and he's still knocking in goals week in and week out for his team. It's all down to how determined the player is to keep on playing.
G: Oh, I hope I didn't offend you there. The reason I am interested in your plans after football is because I saw your description of yourself as a film director on your Twitter account. Care to tell me a bit more about that?
A: The thing is, the eventual end of my playing days will be a sad day for me, and I'd rather let it happen when it does and not think about it now. And when it does happen, I don't think I can even play a friendly pick-up game with friends.
Whereas for my interest in film making, it's just something I picked up along the line, on the sides in my travels. That and because my wife is an English actress; Lily Brown. So far I've produced and directed a few shorts, but something on the commercial side, I did this promo for Sydney FC when they just signed Del Piero. It's on Youtube.
G: That's incredible, Adam. And a bit unusual too, for a football player. Did you direct this promo yourself?
A: Yes, I did. I also produced and came up with the storyboard myself.
G: Any favourite movies, or directors that you'd like to share with your fans out there?
A: I am a bit partial to Quentin Tarantino myself, especially his seminal Pulp Fiction. A lot of football players go for a bit more popular movies, like the Fast and Furious franchise, but I prefer less accessible movies. My current favourite is this Spanish movie by Pedro Almodovar; "La Piel que Habito". It stars Antonio Banderas as a cosmetic doctor who imprisons a girl and experiments on her. You want me to go on? I don't want to spoil it for you, if you intend to watch it.
G: Alright, sure. I'll get a copy later. We have ways in this region. One final question I have for you, as an expatriate in a foreign country, how do you wind down? Do you hang out with the other Australian expats who live in Malaysia?
A: Sure, from time to time. But not all the time. It's quite a shame for someone with the opportunity to live abroad, to simply socialise with people from back home. I do spend time with the locals and my team-mates. For example, tonight I'll be going out with Raimi. I wonder what he has in store for me.
G: Alright Adam. Thank you very much for taking the time to meet me today. And for the coffee. Good luck with the remaining league matches, and good luck to Selangor too.
A: No problem, anytime. Thanks!