Fauzan Dzulkifli was guarding the middle of the park for PKNS FC. After hanging up his boots, he now watches over the financial future of his clients.
By his own admission, former Selangor, PKNS FC, Felda United and Penang FC midfielder Fauzan Dzulkifli is not as well known as his peers. Maybe that’s why, when he hung his shoes up in 2020, the news barely registered among Malaysian soccer fans.
But when he reappeared on social media earlier this week with an announcement, it caught some eye; Fauzan embarked on a new career, as an Islamic financial planner.
In an interview with Goal on the phone Sunday, the man who was last on the books for Sarawak, however, denied that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely affected the finances of Malaysian clubs, is the main reason for the difficulties he has encountered to continue to play professionally.
“Of course, 33, 34 year old footballers like me can still play [at the top level] and if I had had the chance, I would have continued to play. But frankly, from what I’ve seen over the past five years, players aged 30 and over have become irrelevant. That’s not how it was, when clubs were looking for those older players first, before signing the younger players. Nowadays, if they want the most senior players, it’s established names like Shukor Adan, Indra Putra, Azmi Muslim and Safiq Rahim.
Shukor Adan. Photo by MFL
“Unfortunately, clubs don’t look to lesser-known guys like me anymore. So when I didn’t get any more calls from clubs after the M3 League was canceled while in Sarawak in 2020, I decided to call it a day. 15 years or so [in professional football] is enough and it was time for me to make a living in another field.
“And things get harder and harder with more and more [Malaysian] the closure of teams. These days, even well-known names and former Malaysian internationals are forced to attend trials before they are signed, ”he revealed.
However, the former Selangor-born Tanjung Karang player is far from bitter about the circumstances that led to his retirement.
“This is just one of the changes that Malaysian football is going through and we have to accept it,” said Fauzan frankly. “After all, the older players have high salaries compared to the younger ones.”
“Covid-19 has only accelerated this change and many more are loving it. The finances of the clubs have taken a hit and they must spend within their means, as regards the payroll. For example, look at Petaling Jaya City which has an all-local roster this season. I congratulate you on that, because it’s better than promising the sun and the moon that you will later miss the salary payment three or four months later. “
According to him, he is not the only player of his age group to experience such difficulty in Malaysian professional football.
“From what I’ve seen on social media, even more Malaysian players my age are going through what I’ve been through. They now have to make a living in other areas, such as opening their own business. And that’s good, because they have to be proactive instead of waiting for income opportunities to fall in their lap, when too many players are produced with too few professional teams. There are younger players and AMD (Mokhtar Dahari Academy) graduates who can be recruited for less, and the older guys are relegated to the second and third signing picks.
“And sometimes these experienced players get too demanding with their salaries. I have heard of friends who have turned down offers because they are used to getting paid more. Of course, they should avoid being exploited with salaries of RM 3000, but in this economy case they should be grateful for the opportunity to keep playing. A pay cut is not the worst thing, ”Fauzan said.
Looking back on his career, the former midfielder counts his first stint at PKNS, under former head coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, as his best time as a professional footballer. The club’s professional team has since ceased its activities.
“Even though I won the FA Cup and the Malaysian Super League with Selangor, these are not quite my achievements as I rarely got to play there. It wasn’t until I joined PKNS in 2011 that I could be proud of what I accomplished. I played regularly under Abdul Rahman, and helped them gain promotion to the highest level for the first time. I am very satisfied with my stay there.
“Playing under Abdul Rahman also helped shape me a lot. One of his tips that I still remember was to be hungry to play minutes rather than big paychecks. After the first season at PKNS I received many great offers from other clubs. came up to me and said, “PKNS can’t counter the offer from these teams, but we can guarantee you playing time.” I agreed with his argument and stayed there until he left in 2013. I received an offer to join him at Terengganu FC the following season, but I was still under contract with PKNS, and subsequently he retired from training. I remain in contact with him to this day, ”recalled the midfielder.
Fauzan is playing for his second stint for PKNS in 2017. Photo by PKNS FC
Perhaps his new career as an Islamic financial planner was a natural fit, judging by his sense of investment. Having bought his first home at the age of 23 before adding more homes and land to his list over the years, Fauzan first participated in the financial planning business as a client during his days. of gambling, in order to diversify its portfolio.
When a friend convinced him to take a test that would license him to practice as a financial planner in 2019, he never looked back. The following year, Fauzan started doing it full time.
“I can’t say that I started doing this out of interest or out of passion, but the interest in it grew after I understood.
“Also, what I’m happy with is not just the commissions, but helping others. I help them choose takaful (Islamic insurance) the right place to save, and when my clients take advantage of my advice, that makes me proud too, ”he said.
But that doesn’t mean Fauzan’s transition from professional footballer to financial planner was easy. Surprisingly, he admitted that rejection from potential customers always stings.
“Engaging customers, meeting and dealing with people takes habit. Being rejected is hard! Even as a lesser-known player, I was used to being wanted most of the time. Now in my new career I am steadily taken. at one or two terminals of rejections when potential customers decide not to use my services.
“There was a client who ripped me off when he found out that his trust savings had not accrued as expected in the first few months. But I told him this type of savings has its ups and downs and He needs time, maybe he forgot about it. As he is a client and a friend, I had to take him on the chin. Fortunately, the market is on the rise now and it too has since increased its contributions. He’s smiling again now. ”The former midfielder brazenly said.
When asked if he had any financial management advice for the current crop of Malaysian actors, the man whose client rank currently includes Malaysian internationals Syamer Kutty and Shahrul Saad replied that he was just as important to save their income well.
“What they need to do is set up an emergency savings account,” Fauzan said. “Even if they put money aside, if not managed well, that savings can run out within two or three years of retirement, regardless of how much they earn. Second, get income protection when you can’t play because of, God forbid, a permanent disability. “
“They need a consultant to help them plan for their financial future, to save and invest well in order to last five years without a stable income. Talk to someone who knows the deal. And they should also diversify their portfolio and avoid putting all of their eggs in one basket, so that any loss can be offset by profits from other sources. “
However, the father of two little girls did not completely give up the sport. Fauzan hopes to coach in the future, but not at a professional level.
“I sat for the ‘D’ coach badge in 2019 because I am interested in coaching. But only at the local and school level, with children just starting out.
“The satisfaction for me is to mold a talented young player and see him take the next step. I want to be able to guide 11, 12 year olds through the district level, and next to the state level. And who knows, maybe in five or ten years they will be signed by Selangor FC. I’m going to see this with my own eyes, ”Fauzan said.
Before finishing the interview, Fauzan requested that he be allowed to share a post with Malaysian players his age, who may now have difficulty securing a gaming contract.
He used the example of 34-year-old former Kelantan and Selangor defender Rizal Fahmi Rosid, who was recently revealed to be working as a carpool driver, after failing to secure a team this season.
Rizal Fahmi (left). Photo by Azhari Yusop
“They need to stop depending on football as their sole source of income. Trust in Allah’s plans and barakah (In Arabic for blessings), there are other ways to make a living there. Even if the income seems low, if you work diligently it will be enough for them and their families. Find other ways to make a living. Do not hope against hope that they will be signed by a club.
“I’m very proud of guys like Rizal Fahmi who don’t mind driving for Grab. For someone who has played at the highest level to do what is necessary for a living, that is commendable. He created feelings of embarrassment aside from making money, and I’m sure there must be satisfaction in being able to do so. It’s much better than just staying home and waiting for a contract offer that will never come, ”he praised.