PETALING JAYA: They say tough times never last, but tough people do.
Selangor midfielder Brendan Gan, known for his leadership and professionalism, has had to endure two anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) injuries and, most recently, the Big C.
The 34-year-old was diagnosed with early-stage testicular cancer in July last year.
He underwent surgery and later, monitored by a team of specialists, focused on recovery and rehabilitation until the end of 2021.
He returned to training and played in some friendly games this year, but the one thing he yearned for most was a start in a Super League match.
And his wish came true on Sunday, and what a return it was!
Wearing the captain’s armband again, he led the Red Giants to a thumping 7-0 win over Sarawak United at the Petaling Jaya Stadium.
And to cap a magnificent night, Brendan scored the opening goal.
In the seventh minute, rightback Quentin Cheng made a darting run on the right and supplied a pass, which Sarawak’s S. Veenod meekly cleared.
Brendan, lurking in the penalty box, capitalised on it with a venomous volley that shattered the net.
His wild celebration summed up his feelings as he had to wait almost a year to be back on the pitch.
Selangor’s other scorers were Herlison Caion, who grabbed a hattrick in the 45th, 74th and 88th minutes. Hyuri Henrique (23rd), Norhakim Hassan (51st) and Aliff Haiqal Lau (92nd) also found their names on the scoresheet.
But the night certainly belonged to ‘Captain Marvel’ and Selangor fans are optimistic that if he gets regular minutes, he will return to the Harimau Malaya fold.
“I did not want it to be all about my return. But it was a great feeling to be back as it’s been an extremely tough year, with lots of work behind closed doors,” said the former Sydney FC player.
“The game was hugely important for me in terms of progression. I am nowhere near where I want to be at the moment, but at the end of the day, it’s great to be back.
“I need to make sure I get better every week, and that form helps Selangor in the Super League and other cup competitions.
“For me, it didn’t matter who scored and what the scoreline was. The main message we kept talking about throughout the weeks was being together, coming together as a team.”