I hope police will nab culprit, says Selangor FC’s Faisal Halim

It was a painful return to the Selangor FC training ground in Shah Alam, Selangor for footballer Faisal Halim.

The Selangor FC and national team star was not his usual bubbly self. The minute Faisal stepped into the lobby area to meet the press, stunned faces greeted him. The victim of an acid attack at a shopping mall in Kota Damansara in Selangor on May 5, Faisal’s left arm was badly scarred, with some scarring seen on his face and head. Doctors have given him between three and six months to recover.

Even worse, the incident seemed to have broken the character of the once happy, cheerful player. It was a completely different Faisal who met members of the media who had packed the lobby of the training centre. This was his first public appearance since the horrific incident that shocked the nation, and grabbed headlines worldwide.

Just before Faisal spoke, members of the press were shown images of the extent of his injuries, magnifying the severity of the incident.

Faisal started the press conference by reading a prepared statement, paying tribute to members of the Selangor royal household, the management of Selangor FC, and his family. He also thanked football clubs within, and beyond Malaysia that stood by him following the attack.

Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah is patron of Selangor FC, while his son, the Crown Prince of Selangor, Tengku Amir Shah, is Selangor FC chairman.

“I miss training and playing football. I can’t just sit and watch Selangor FC and Malaysia play. My legs shiver, my heart wants to play,” said Faisal.

“My hope is to continue playing, for the club and country. I hope the attacker will be nabbed and charged in court,” he added.

Yet, Faisal has not been informed of any progress by police, since the incident took place. He confirmed that he had only met the police once, when they took his statement while still warded in the intensive care unit of a private hospital, during the first week of the incident.

“I was born to be a footballer. When I was attacked, it was difficult for me and my family. What I hope for is that I get to return,” said Faisal.

“Right now, I’m not sure if I can return … but my rehabilitation is getting better, day by day.

“I can’t be hiding from people forever. I’m ready to make a public appearance so that I’m free. I want to move on, get on with life, like other footballers, like other people. I hope to return as soon as possible.”

At one point, Faisal broke down, saying he was willing to forgo his salary to play football.

“I also told my wife, my family about this … I want to go back to the village and work so that I don’t have to live in fear.

“I hope the police will catch the culprit. I have faith in them.”

In the close to an hour press conference, Faisal choked with emotion when asked what went through his mind right after he was attacked.

“I don’t want to recall this incident. I don’t want to talk about it. But when it first happened, it was hot… some people around me told me it wasn’t dangerous.

“But it was really dangerous. Now, I need help … to eat, to even go to the toilet. My wife, family… they have been helping to care for me, to monitor me,” he added.

Faisal underwent three surgeries, mainly skin grafting, for his left arm. Faisal didn’t lift his left arm throughout the press conference. Members of the press were told that he was undergoing rehabilitation for his shoulder and elbow.

He also said he can still see and play football but needed glasses when it came to reading.

Faisal was the second footballer who was attacked in a series of assaults that took place early last month.

On May 2, Terengganu FC footballer Akhyar Rashid was assaulted following a robbery in Kuala Terengganu. On May 7, Johor Darul Ta’zim Safiq Rahim had his car’s rear windscreen smashed by unknown assailants near the club’s training centre in Jalan Seri Gelam, Johor Bahru.

To date, none of the attackers have been identified, prompting wild speculations.

There has also not been an official word from the authorities regarding the football fan who was allegedly attacked at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Johor during the FA Cup final last year.

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