JDT bid goodbye to most influential player in their rise to the top

Safiq Rahim, Johor Darul Ta'zim
Johor Southern Tigers
Six seasons laden with trophies, perennial champions Johor Darul Ta'zim part ways with their most successful skipper and inspirational leader, Safiq.

In the movie The Matrix Reloaded, Neo meets the Architect and one of the lines between the two characters went like this, "If I am the father of the Matrix, she would undoubtedly be its mother."

To borrow that context with a slight change and put into JDT, if HRH Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ) is the father of JDT, Safiq Rahim would undoubtedly be its general. 

When TMJ took over and rebranded Johor into JDT, one of his first task was recruitment and to find the player that would be the face to spearhead The Southern Tigers' assault for top honours in Malaysian football and he inevitably turned his attention to Safiq.

Johor Darul Takzim vs LionsXII - Hariss Harun challenges Safiq Rahim

Signed from Selangor in 2013, Safiq has more than repaid the faith put in him by TMJ as JDT picked up titles after titles, trophies after trophies and even managed to scale the impervious heights of Asia with that AFC Cup win in 2015. 

Not often the easiest of characters to be around with, as some players would suggest but on the pitch - Safiq was the captain, the leader, the inspiration and central to the football brand that JDT and TMJ wanted to showcase to the footballing world.

The central midfielder was key to everything that JDT achieved on the pitch and his performance seemed to define the result that the club would achieve. The dependence on it's best player is natural and when Safiq hit the heights, more often than not JDT would win.

JDT Safiq Rahim Celebration MSL 2015

There were of course bad moments, not least the 2017 Malaysia Cup final when his outbursts after the match caused by furore. But then Safiq was never the quiet unassuming character that someone like Hariss Harun is. 

Coincidentally, the passing of the baton of the captaincy went from Safiq to Hariss this season as the former faded out of the first team with each passing match, despite starting the 2018 season very much still the leader the band.

Despite his powers being on the wane, particularly with the physical demands that a playing style like JDT requires, Safiq remains one of the best in the business still, when it comes to being able to use his vision for the final pass.

Safiq Rahim, TMJ, Johor Darul Ta

While the announcement was made that late yesterday with TMJ and JDT bidding goodbye to Safiq, the fact remains that on paper, he still had one more year in his contract that will last until 2019. Whether the contract is now mutually terminated or that Safiq will be going out on loan for the remainder of his contract, remains to be seen.

It is unfortunate how having helped JDT force their way into the AFC Champions League with good showing in the AFC Cup to rake in valuable ranking points, Safiq will now not be part of the club's first foray into the group stage. But with whispers of a possible move abroad, Safiq may yet get to taste Asia's elite competition.

What is undeniable is that fact that at the forefront of JDT's success in growing themselves as the dominant football club in Malaysia, is Safiq Rahim and in the eyes of JDT fans, he has more than rightfully earned his place as one of the legends of the club.

Safiq Rahim, Johor Darul Ta


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