National Team - Lions ● Oct 06, 2018
A tribute to Fara, the hardman who won Singapore’s hearts
SINGAPORE, 6 OCTOBER 2018 – For 12 years, he donned the Singapore flag on his chest with distinction.
Fahrudin Mustafic never shirked a challenge and always led by example on the pitch for the Lions, earning 85 caps and a legacy as one of the best midfielders to ever represent the country.
Mustafic was the man you could count on to take a penalty, on the biggest stage too. Twice in the final of an ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship, Mustafic bulged the top right corner from the spot – once in 2007 in the first leg against Thailand and again in 2012 against the same opponents, the latter after a successful first kick was ruled out.
Singapore won both editions and Mustafic was a key reason for those triumphs, the midfield hardman protecting the defence with authority and serving as the perfect foil for his more creative team-mates to pull the strings.
Mustafic’s distinguished international career started when Radojko Avramovic, who asked him to take up citizenship in 2003, handed the defensive midfielder his Lions debut in January 2006 against Denmark.
Fara, as he is affectionately known, had arrived here in 2002 from the former Republic of Yugoslavia to join Tampines Rovers FC after leaving the youth team of FK Novi Pazar.
He scored eight times for Singapore and 46 more at club level for Tampines Rovers FC, where he spent 15 years and chalked up 389 appearances. Success was had with the Stags too, where he won five S.League (now Singapore Premier League) titles (2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013), two Singapore Cups (2002, 2004, 2006) and the 2005 ASEAN Club Championship. Mustafic was also crowned S.League Young Player of the Year after an impressive 2004 season.
While he was tough as nails on the pitch, Mustafic was genuinely down to earth off it; it is testament to the high regard in which he is held that former national and club-mate Qiu Li did not have to think twice when asked to fly back from his China to participate in Fara’s testimonial match on Sunday.
A host of star names will also be present at Our Tampines Hub to play with Fara, including the likes of Noh Alam Shah, Lionel Lewis and Aleksandar Duric as the Singapore footballing community comes together to pay tribute to a warrior.
With the 37-year-old’s retirement, we are left with glorious memories of his service to Singapore football.
So, from the bottom of our hearts – thank you, Fara!