Aidil Azuan, the Selangor youngster who idolises Pirlo and dreams of vying with Syahmi Safari

Goal.com

Name: Aidil Azuan
Age: 19
Siblings: Last of five, including himself and elder brother Afiq who currently plays for Kelantan. Also Son of Azuan Aman, former Melaka player.
Academy: 2014 - Seri Kota National Secondary School (Melaka's state sports school), 2015-2017 - Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (federal sports school), 2018-2019 - Melaka United
Former Club: Melaka United, PKNP FC
Current Club: Selangor 2
National Team: Malaysia U-19 (2019 AFF U-19 Championship runners up, qualified for 2020 AFC U-19 Championship finals)
Position: Right back

Footballing pedigree

The youngster who was earlier listed on Goal's NxGN 2020 Malaysian list does not need to look far for guidance as a professional player. His father used to play for his state in the 1980's and 90's, and one of his brothers is also a pro, he revealed to Goal in a telephone conversation.

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Melaka 1991/92
Melaka 1991/92

Azuan (foreground third from right) with the 1991/92 Melaka squad. Photo from Aidil

"My father, Azuan Aman used to play for Melaka for quite some time. My brother, Afiq Azuan is currently with Kelantan. 

"We both managed to return home to Melaka before the PKP (Covid-19 movement restriction order in Malaysia) was issued, and we make sure to train everyday, because if we don't we'll both be lectured by our father!"

Schooling and early days as a pro

"After representing the state as a 12-year old at the school level, I was accepted to the Seri Kota National Secondary School. But in Form Two, I was offered a place at the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) in Johor, where I first met future [Malaysia U-19 and Selangor 2] teammate Mukhairi Ajmal.

"I studied and trained at SSTMI until Form Four, but I didn't finish my studies there. That year, Melaka noticed me playing for SSTMI against them in the Youth Cup (U-19), and next year I was offered a spot on the Melaka United Youth Cup team. After discussing it with my father, I accepted the offer, returned and finished my studies at Seri Kota in 2018.

"But in the following year, the club started running into financial troubles, while at the same time I received an offer from PKNP FC in the league's second transfer window, which I accepted."

At PKNP FC, first senior club appearances

"I was persuaded to sign for PKNP after seeing how adamant they were in signing me. In addition, Mukhairi had joined them ahead of the 2019 season, while the club seemed well-managed.

"At first I played as a President's Cup team (U-21) member, but it wasn't long until I would get my first senior team appearance. Although I didn't play in any Super League matches, I got my first senior team game and start in the Malaysia Cup group stage, on September 13 against UiTM FC. I would go on to play in their remaining three cup games, all from the starting eleven too.

Aidil Azuan
Aidil Azuan

Aidil playing for PKNP in 2019. Photo from PKNP

"I was very nervous about starting my first senior game, but the experienced PKNP players made me feel welcomed. They treated me as equal, they didn't patronise, much less bully, me.

"I enjoyed playing under coach Burn (Abu Bakar Fadzim), because he has the ability to communicate his intended messages across well. He made it easy for me to understand him."

Joining Selangor 2

"I received an offer from Selangor to join their reserve team in the Premier League when I was in Cambodia with Malaysia U-19 (AFC Championship qualifiers). Just like my decision to join PKNP earlier, it was partly influenced by Mukhairi, who had received his Selangor offer one week earlier.

"But even then I still took one week to think it over, mainly because I didn't know anyone, the management or players, at the club personally. I also received offers from Perak and Melaka United, with the latter being made by [senior team head coach] Zainal Abidin Hassan himself. However, in the end I went with Selangor, and signed with them for two years, mainly because I get to develop my confidence by playing with a team comprising mostly players of my age.

"I like it here. The management looks after our welfare well, especially during the PKP. This season, I didn't get to play in our first two games, but managed to play in our later two games, before the league was suspended due to Covid-19. What a shame that the pandemic got worse around the time my form started to pick up."

Aidil Azuan, Selangor II, Khairullah Halim, Perak II, Malaysia Premier League, 14032020
Aidil Azuan, Selangor II, Khairullah Halim, Perak II, Malaysia Premier League, 14032020

Aidil (left) playing this year. Photo from Malaysia Football League

Friendships with Mukhairi, Yashir

"At PKNP, I grew close to Palestine international Yashir Pinto. As right back I spent a lot of time with him, a right winger, and he constantly motivated me to do better. It's a great feeling to play alongside him, because as a boy, I used to watch him play for Melaka. We still keep in touch, with him asking me about Selangor and whether they're treating me well.

"I first met Mukhairi (another Malaysia NxGn 2020 lister) when we both trained at SSTMI and he's been a constant figure in my life since then. We frequently got in trouble together, due to our stubborness and class-skipping! All jokings aside, I love playing with him because he likes the 'tiki-taka' approach and we understand each other's playing preferences. We're now not only clubmates, but also housemates."

Aidil and Mukhairi in 2019

'Pirlo' nickname and his idols

"The 'Pirlo' nickname was given to me by teammates when I was still twelve, although he (former Italy international Andrea Pirlo) was a midfielder and I'm a defender. Maybe they called me that because I always insisted on taking the freekick! But I do admire his composure, and his ability to dictate the game effortlessly, and it is this part of his game that I do try to emulate. To this day, I still watch Youtube videos of him playing before I take to the pitch, in order to hype myself up.

"But a player closer to my position who I idolise is [former Germany and Bayern Munich right back] Philipp Lahm. He's small, but he was very-disciplined and constantly worked hard.

"Locally, I admire Rizal Ghazali (Kedah right back). His workrate is fantastic, you can see how determined he is when backtracking in order to recover possession. This workrate is something that I always strive to have.

"Syahmi Safari (Selangor and Malaysia right back) is a player I look up to, while at the same time look forward to challenging for a spot in the first team. My target here is to break through to the first team, although I know it's a tough thing to do knowing Syahmi is there. It's hard but I won't give up."  

Andrea Pirlo Italy Euro 2012
Andrea Pirlo Italy Euro 2012

Andrea Pirlo. Photo from Getty

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