Samuel proves being short is no problem for a good keeper


First in line: Samuel Somerville leads his Penang teammates as they are given a guard of honour during their final league match against Terengganu II. — Photo courtesy of Penang FA

PETALING JAYA: Football goalkeepers are usually big and tall.

However, there are exceptions. Take Colombia’s legendary goalkeeper Rene Higuita who is only 1.76m tall while former Mexican keeper Jorge Campos, known for his colourful jerseys, is only 1.68m and played for his country 130 times.

In Malaysia, Melaka goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat played a key role in Malaysia’s inaugural triumph in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. He also helped Kelantan win two Super League titles, two Malaysia Cups and two FA Cups. His height – 1.73m.

There is another custodian who has shown that height is not the deciding factor to be good and that’s Penang’s Samuel Somerville.

He is only 1.74m tall but has played a pivotal role between the posts to steer Penang to the Premier League title and promotion to the Super League next season.

The 26-year-old, who played for Johor Darul Ta’zim II from 2015 to 2019, showed that he’s one of the best shot-stoppers by conceding only eight goals – the least in the Premier League this season. And he featured in all their matches too.

Samuel is hoping to carry the momentum into the Malaysia Cup competition starting with the first round from Nov 6-7.

“I have gone through many interesting experiences during my time in Johor, and I would like to thank TMJ (Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim) for what he has done for me before this, ” said Samuel, who is of Malaysian-British parentage.

“However, I felt that it was time to move this year, and get more minutes to play and I am lucky to have joined a side with a winning and champions’ mentality.

“The stats this season have been meaningful, and most importantly, we brought the title back to Penang.

“I hope next season will be better for my career.

“For now, I will focus on the Malaysia Cup.”

Samuel got his Malaysian citizenship in 2015 and was a long time goalkeeper for JDT’s feeder team, but always played a supporting role as the team preferred Haziq Nadzli for most matches.

In Penang, he impressed coach Manzoor Azwira even though the other keepers in the team – Hazrull Hafiz Zulkifly, Muhd Al-Imran Ishak, Ramadhan Hamid and Wong Tse Yang – are all taller than him.

However, he makes it up with his brilliant shot-stopping, command of the box and ability to read crosses.

Samuel admitted that he felt relieved that Penang would avoid the top six teams – JDT, Kedah, Terengganu, Perak, Selangor and PJ City in the Super League in the early round of the Malaysia Cup which will be played on a one-off knockout format.

The quarter-finals will be held from Nov 12-13 and followed with the semi-finals (Nov 17) and the final (Nov 22).

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Samuel Somerville , Penang , Malaysia Cup

   

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