Shahril Jantan looking to end 16-year S.League career on a high at Home
Home United veteran goalkeeper Shahril Jantan has revealed that he will hang up his boots at the end of the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season after 16 years in the top flight.
Since making his S.League debut in 1999 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, Shahril has come a long way in his career -- winning six S.League titles and four Singapore Cups with clubs like Geylang United (now renamed Geylang International), SAFFC (now Warriors FC) and Home.
On the international stage, he was also part of the 2004 ASEAN Football Championship winning squad under Radojko Avramovic.
Amongst the highs, there are also lows like being involved in the failed 2002 Tiger Cup campaign, but the retiring Shahril has no regrets embarking on this professional football journey.
"It has been 16 long wonderful years which will be coming to an end soon," the 35-year-old told ESPN FC.
"I believe I can easily go on for another three to four seasons if I want to. I've kept myself fit by clocking 9 minute 32 seconds in the 2.4km fitness test with my first attempt earlier this year. That's well within the minimum timing for an outfielder.
"I've experienced endless great moments throughout my career like training with Arsenal in London for five weeks, earning my first Singapore cap against Uruguay, winning my first S.League medal with Geylang and playing in two AFC Champions League campaigns with SAFFC.
"There're also disappointing moments like the 2002 Tiger Cup but all these have helped in terms of developing and shaping my character to whom I am today.
"Singapore football will always be close to my heart, but it is just sad that there are some who do not appreciate the contributions and sacrifices you have made over the years."
After such a long glittering career, Shahril is looking to sign off on a high note by inspiring his beloved Protectors to a top-four finish in the league and a place in the Singapore Cup final.
Philippe Aw's side are currently sixth in the league table, six points behind fourth-placed Albirex Niigata (S), while trailing Brunei DPMM 3-2 after the first leg of the Cup semifinal.
"Of course it will be a beautiful moment for me personally if we win the Cup, because it will be my fifth one," he shared.
"As for the league, we're hoping to finish in the top four although we need favours from other teams and collect points ourselves."
For now, Home will need to bounce back after suffering two unexpected losses against Geylang International and Harimau Muda.
Next up for them will be a tough home encounter against Albirex on Thursday night. In two prior meetings this season, both sides cancelled out each other in identical goalless draws.
Shahril believes this is the time where he and the rest of the senior players must lead by example, and help to lift the squad's spirits.
"We had an unbeaten run of 10 games before that, but suddenly people are having doubts on the team just because we lost two games," he remarked.
"Now it's important that players like myself, Noh Rahman and Juma'at (Jantan) lift the team up and show it by working harder on the training ground.
"I'm sure the effort that is being channelled into training will translate to the games, thus I hope the younger players at the club will learn to observe and put in similar or even more effort for the success of the club."
"Playing Albirex has always been tough because they're tactically efficient and technically sound. However having said that, I've played against much more tougher Albirex sides in previous seasons so I believe it is not impossible to take all three points off them especially playing at Yishun Stadium."
Home United Probable Lineup: Shahril Jantan (GK), Juma'at Jantan, Shahrin Saberin, Noh Rahman (C), Sirina Camara, Yasir Hanapi, Song Uiyong, Kamel Ramdani, Fazli Ayob, Ambroise Begue, Ken Ilso
Albirex Niigata (S) Probable Lineup: Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Mikiya Yamada, Takahiro Saito, Kento Fujihara, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Shun Inaba, Atsushi Kawata, Fumiya Kogure, Rion Taki, Yusuke Mukai