16-year-old Aizil Yazid wants to carry on the legacy of his father, Singapore football icon Yazid Yasin
Signed to Hougang United for the 2021 SPL season, Aizil is looking to emulate the success of his father in the domestic football scene.
As a professional goalkeeper, Yazid Yasin enjoyed a decorated career in Singapore football.
After making his debut as a 16-year-old in the inaugural season of the S.League (now Singapore Premier League) in 1996, Yazid is one of the few players to have won every title available.
Currently a goalkeeping coach at Balestier Khalsa, Yazid won’t be just keeping an eye out for the goalkeepers at the Tigers, such as Zaiful Nizam. He will be looking out for the goalkeepers at Hougang United too, where his son, Aizil Yazid, looks to carry out his legacy.
The 16-year-old signed in the off-season for the Cheetahs, after spending the previous year training with Albirex Niigata (S).
“I’m definitely looking forward to battling for the number one spot,” Aizil told Youthopia. But making his debut at 16, like his father, might prove to be a challenge.
Apart from Aizil, Hougang also have the long-serving Ridhuan Barudin, once part of the Singapore national team setup, and fellow new recruit Mukundan Maran, who impressed with Warriors FC back in 2018.
“While I hope to eventually make my senior debut at Hougang, I simply want to learn as much as I can from the more experienced duo of Mukundan and Ridhuan,” said Aizil.
“The players and technical staff at Hougang have been really friendly and welcoming so far. They motivate me and have been really patient in terms of explaining what is expected from me and the rest of the team.”
Aizil hopes his time at Albirex will put him in good stead. Training daily with Japanese players and the 2020 champions showed him the intensity and hard work required to become a top professional.
Of course, Aizil said it also improved the different aspects of his game.
“Training alongside technically better players at Albirex also forced me to think faster on the pitch, which in turn helped me in my footwork. Their willingness to put in the extra hard work would be something I would want to apply anywhere I go, be it Hougang or any other club which I may end up playing for,” Aizil shared.
But the biggest role model Aizil has in life, without a doubt, is his father.
Growing up, Aizil always looked up to Yazid, whom he described as a ‘disciplined’ person. Yazid placed strong emphasis on punctuality. Aizil picked up that value too and he now makes it a point to get to training early, so he can get in some extra work.
“Off the field, we are pretty close to each other and he is always supportive in terms of what I do,” said Aizil of his relationship with Yazid.
“While we don’t really talk much about football off the pitch, he still advises me and tries to provide tips on how I can improve as a goalkeeper if he manages to catch my games.”
There was something in particular which Aizil remembers being said about his father – that Yazid, who is 1.69m tall, is “too short to be a goalkeeper”.
Aizil, who is 1.77m tall, said his father’s success goes to show that as long as one works hard, they can make up for their shortfalls.
“I look at it as more of there’s no excuses no matter what your circumstances may be because there will always be something you can work on. For example, being faster than the rest or maybe having better positioning to make up for the height difference.”
Aizil has indeed learnt well. Yazid said that Aizil is “very driven” as a person and “technically sound” as a player. But he also cautioned for Aizil to remain patient, given that at 16, there’s plenty of time to chart his own path as a professional footballer.
“I hope he continues with his progression as a goalkeeper, and learns as much as he can, from the coaches and professionals around him at Hougang. It would be great for him if he does that.
“He needs to work hard and be ready to grab opportunities when they come. In the long term, l hope he can establish himself in the league and become a good professional,” said Yazid.
Aizil won’t be alone in this journey, too. His older brother, 17-year-old Aqil, will also feature in the SPL as a defender for Balestier.
“I feel proud, happy and also excited for both of them,” said 41-year-old Yazid.
“My advice to both of them is that they need to remain humble. They haven’t achieved anything yet so cannot get carried away. They need to continue to stay disciplined, work hard and be always motivated.
“There will be good days and there will also be bad days, they just need to be prepared for them. Whatever it is, they both know that their parents will always have their back.”
Aizil believes that going through a similar journey of trying to make their senior debut together can only benefit both himself and his brother.
“I hope to play against Aqil in the SPL this season if the chance arises, as we are really competitive against each other on the pitch,” he added.
“Off the pitch, we are almost like best friends who joke around although we still push each other to be better when we are doing personal training or gym sessions.
“Having him go through the same struggles as me can be really motivating, as we can rely on each other and provide the support needed during challenging times.”
Like any other footballer, Aizil harbours hope of representing the Lions one day, having represented the country at the youth level. For now though, his goal is to make the cut for the next Southeast Asian Games.
“The motto I live by is that hard work beats talent,” he said.
“It’s a personal reminder that no matter how talented you may be, you must still put in the hard work as there will always be more talented players out there.”