Roshan Narayan: From Hero to Zero?

By Roshan Narayan

This past week, a lot has been said about the return of Malaysian footballer Nazmi Faiz.

Most have been critical, disappointed or just baseless rants for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon. The fact of the matter is, nobody but Nazmi and 'his people' know what really happened, to result in his return. There's been heaps of speculation, theories and rumors to assume he made the decision to throw away a golden opportunity in his career. In saying 'he made the decision' it is making an assumption on my part. Who really knows what transpired between all the parties involved?

In truth, there are a lot of questions surrounding this 'episode'. Yet, even without the answers or real proof, a lot of people are pretty quick to jump to conclusions and judge the 19-year-old. And I find that disturbing, as a football fan and as a rational thinker. Just looking at what's been reported in the media, nobody has concrete evidence on whether the club he joined failed to deliver on their promises. We have not been told by any reliable sources if Nazmi decided to return for personal reasons, simply because he has refused to say anything. Neither are we sure that the youngster was tricked, swindled or misled to come home, for a fact.

And as a person, he should be lauded for being gentlemanly and professional in that sense. He has not gone and sensationalised what really occurred, like a Page Three model who sleeps with a Premier League player. He could have. And some gossip-mongers may insist that he should. Especially if he was wronged. Why not shame the guilty parties for what they've done, right? In fact, his silence is more detrimental as it has caused many to assume he is the 'guilty' party. Was it the Malaysian delicacies he missed at home? Is he like the rest of 'them' who returned because of a "weak mentality?" So many questions. Still, no answers.

We are entitled to our opinions, of course. But to judge the boy without any basis is equivalent to being guilty until proven innocent. And that is not fair, is it? Nazmi is not the first example of a Malaysian player leaving for greener pastures, only to return without fulfilling his potential. So why the massive uproar? Yes, he was touted as having a lot of potential. So were the rest of them in the past. I'm not saying we shouldn't expect anything from these future flag bearers. But, did they ask to be given this responsibility? Did they apply for the 'job' in the first place?

In this case, does anyone know how Nazmi really feels about the whole situation? And, if he is really an ambitious person, aiming for all the best things a move to Europe could have offered his career, don't you think he would be feeling more hurt and disappointed than anyone else in this country, compared to those who profess to feel that way, despite not being directly involved in this whole thing? Why is it that everyone is treating this situation as if he was the last dying breed of footballers we have in Malaysia? There are still at least a handful of promising talents out there, and this is only based on those we are aware of. They may be plying their craft with less prominent clubs than a Primeira Liga outfit, but there is still hope. And who knows how many more are out there in the world with a Malaysian identity, whom we are not aware of yet? There will be many more to come too. Malaysia ranks at number 82 in the world, in terms of birth rate, with at least 21 births per one thousand people. That's miles higher than Indonesia (#105), Brazil (#109), the United Kingdom (#161) and Spain (#180)!

For argument's sake, so what if Nazmi actually decided to cut short his stint in the Iberian Peninsula? Does he owe us, the fans, anything? The answer is, no. As a fan, there is nothing written in stone about receiving an explanation on every decision your idol makes. As a fan, you consciously decided to follow and support someone for what they stand for, their achievements and the promised probability of their future. Granted, Nazmi may have reportedly gone about handling the whole situation less desirably than others would have liked it to be handled. But the whole experience was very new for the kid.

In hindsight, you have to admit that it is very easy for any of us who have not had to deal with a similar situation, to 'determine' what he should have done, while sitting comfortably in our swivel chairs, bean-bags and other comfortable chair-like apparatus, reading the tweets, news feeds, media reports and what-nots on the incident, after the event. We were not there, faced with the decision in real time, influenced and (mis)informed by the people surrounding us. I'm sure most of us have found ourselves in a similar situation, regardless of the career or paths we've chosen in life, and lived to tell the tale (of regret?) that followed. If that was the case, Nazmi can only learn from all of this and venture forth with valuable insight and knowledge on how to deal with it in the future. He is only 19 years-old. How many of us can honestly admit to making the right choices at 19?

To borrow the analogy from what Nazmi tweeted days after he returned, he may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but he believes he can adjust his sails to always reach his destination. So, give the kid a break.