Football produces plenty of spectacular goals but there are a select few that seem to defy not only logic, but physics. In February of this year, Faiz Subri produced one such strike.
Attempting a shot on goal from a position wide on the left, fully 35 yards from goal, was ambitious enough. But it was the Malaysian’s remarkable technique, and the ball’s ridiculous trajectory, that left everyone - opponents, team-mates, spectators and the millions who watched it online – with mouths agape. Given how widely viewed Subri’s wonder-strike has been, it seems pointless to highlight the path it took to goal, with the ball seemingly heading high and wide of the keeper’s right-hand post only to swerve and dip viciously before spinning in at the other side of the goal completely.
It was an incredible effort and, within hours, the video had gone viral. The only question at that stage: had the Penang forward meant it?
Zesh Rehman, captain of opponents Pahang, had his doubts. "He could be trying for the rest of his career and I don't think he will achieve that again," Rehman said afterwards. It was left to Subri himself, supported by an online army of admirers, to mount a case for the defence. “I meant to take it like that,” he insisted, “as I have been practising it in training. But this was the first time I tried it this way in a match."
Subri found a supporter in Malaysia’s prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who tweeted that news of the “fantastic” and “truly marvelous” free-kick had reached America. But the greatest recognition for his glory goal came on 21 November, when it was chosen by Gabriel Batistuta, Marta and Marco van Basten to feature in a list of ten nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award 2016.
“I was speechless when I got confirmation that my goal made it into FIFA’s list,” said the player himself. “Many people had been telling me that my goal would make the top 10, but I was doubtful as there are so many wonderful goals scored around the world. It is unbelievable to see my name on the shortlist, which includes Messi and Neymar. Of course, it’s not easy to compete with them, but win or lose, it has inspired me to become a better player.
“Nomination for the Puskás Award is the highest recognition throughout my career as a footballer,” he added. “I feel like I’ve done enough to put Malaysian football on the world map.”
If you feel Subri's strike is worthy of the Puskás Award, time is running out to keep him in the race. The deadline for the first round of voting ends tomorrow, 2 December, with the top three goals in this entirely fan-determined contest then going forward to a second and final stage.
The winner will be revealed at The Best FIFA Awards ceremony on 9 January 2017.