Despite Malaysia's 2-1 loss to Arsenal at Bukit Jalil Stadium last night, Gary Steven Robbat’s impressive showing did not go unnoticed.
The Harimau Muda midfielder, in his first-ever senior appearance for the national side, put in a solid and eye-catching performance after coming on for the tired Shakir Shaari towards the end of the first half.
The Sungai Petani native, who turns 20 in September, gave the more experienced Abou Diaby, Alexandre Song and Mikel Arteta hardly any time on the ball, constantly snapping at their heels. His lack of fear against the big names caught the attention of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“The number 15 (Robbat) played well when he came on,” Wenger told ESPNSTAR.
His Malaysian counterpart, Datuk K.Rajagopal, revealed that he talked about Gary with Wenger before the game. “Before when I was talking to Arsene, I said I liked this player. He asked why I wasn't starting him so I told him it was because of tactical reasons,” he said.
Rajagopal then took time to dish out his own praise for the midfielder. "I brought in Gary at the right time and he held the midfield well. He distributed the ball and he used his physique even though he's a young lad. He's been with me from the start, since my time in charge of Harimau Muda."
The man known as ‘King Raja’ to Malaysian football fans wrapped up by giving the youngster a ringing endorsement: "I know this boy well and I think he has a very bright future. Gary showed he has some potential."
After leaving such a good impression, Robbat is now likely to get another outing against Premier League champions Manchester City next Monday night at the same venue.