For a young prospect who was earmarked to be the future of Singapore's football, Adam Swandi hasn't fulfilled the potential he showed in the infancy stage of his career, though through no fault of his.
Last year, Adam had shown signs of coming into his own. But he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee in July, ruling him out for a lengthy period of time.
Ask any professional footballer and they will tell you getting injured can never be a pleasant experience, let alone one so major. Adam hadn't even realised the severity of it initially.
"Thinking back, I must say it was quite a scary experience. When I was tackled straight into the knee, it didn't occur to me that it could be an ACL injury. To be honest, I thought it was just any other injury," the 24-year-old told Youth.SG.
"It was only after I consulted my physiotherapist that I realised that it's most likely a serious injury.
"As athletes, we dread this situation, but it is part and parcel of the game."
Adam (on the ground) screaming in pain after suffering the injury in a game against the Young Lions in July last year.
PHOTO CREDIT: LION CITY SAILORS
A year on, Adam is fully recovered and ready to go when the Singapore Premier League (SPL) season resumes. The Lion City Sailors midfielder said going through such a lengthy period has toughened him up, too.
"Nobody wants to be in a situation like this. But having gone through surgery and rehabilitation the past year, I must say it is actually quite an experience and since things happen for a reason, it makes my career more 'colourful'," he said.
Truth to be told, Adam's rehabilitation process was not the most ideal. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent circuit breaker measures that were put in place, Adam was unable to work with a physiotherapist or coach face-to-face on a daily basis - the norm for professional players.
Still, he did his best to follow the rehabilitation plan drawn up by Football Association of Singapore's strength and conditioning coach Hidayat Osman and performed his exercises diligently on his own at home, five to six times a week.
"The equipment I have at home may not be as comprehensive as what I get at the gym but I guess it's still sufficient. The circuit breaker isn't the best of situations but it's something I can do and try to control," shared Adam.
"With the reopening of the gyms, things are getting better and I would say the circuit breaker was definitely not a waste of time because I still managed to do some work on my own in my bid to return to full fitness."
Outside of football, things were a little more promising for Adam, who recently got married to his girlfriend Nurul Izzati.
However, the newlyweds were only able to have 10 guests at their solemnisation at a mosque - far from the dream wedding ceremony that they had planned.
"It was challenging because we had spent a lot of time in terms of planning and even made bookings but as the wedding drew closer, this pandemic happened.
"There were so many uncertainties. We were just waiting for updates and thoughts like whether we could do it, how many people could attend and so on came to mind. In fact, we actually thought of postponing it," explained Adam.
Apart from working on his rehabilitation, Adam also found time to tie the knot with his partner, Nurul Izzati.
PHOTO CREDIT: ADAM SWANDI
Despite the hurdles, Adam said he was delighted with how the entire ceremony turned out in the end.
"Normally, almost everyone from your immediate family to your friends would be present but it was not the case as only 10 people were allowed for the solemnisation at the mosque," he added.
"It felt really close at heart because it's an experience not many couples will ever have… Of course, we miss out on having a bigger reception with more people present, but this is something we feel is meant for us and is also a wise decision during a time like this."
Adam is hoping that with his wife's support, he can take his footballing career to the next level.
"She's someone whom I've known for a long time and is supportive of me. She knows the sacrifices I have to make to get to where I am today and getting married will help me focus and spend my time more wisely. It's also a positive thing as I continue to improve myself on and off the pitch."
While no date has been pencilled in yet for SPL's return, players have been permitted to start training in small groups. Adam is eagerly anticipating for the day when he is able to step onto the pitch and put on a show again.
"For me, I just want to play football again. It's quite sad that I've been out of football for a year now but I'm looking forward to my comeback," said the 2018 SPL Young Player of the Year.
Adam believes he is ready to pick up where he left off when the SPL season resumes.
PHOTO CREDIT: LION CITY SAILORS
"The past year has been a tough and long one, and it probably feels like the longest one in my life so far, as football has always been a part of me.
"I'm mentally ready now and I will do the best that I can and hopefully I can be as good as before or even better [when I return]."
His goal for the near future, undeniably, is to get back into the Lions' fold. He is also eyeing a spot in the squad for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of the year, if it carries on as planned.
"It's the dream of every player to represent the national team but having been out for such a long time, it may not be easy as it seems," said Adam, who was part of the national team setup before his unfortunate injury.
"That said, I hope to impress the head coach [Tatsuma Yoshida] to earn a spot in the team. Also, if the chance ever comes for me to play overseas, I will say 'Why not?'
"While everyone can't wait to get this pandemic to end, we need to continue to be responsible. I hope the fans will continue to support us even if it might be a different environment. What will be even better if we can win some matches [when football resumes] to lift up their spirits!"
BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: LION CITY SAILORS
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