Asian Football Interviews

Setting Foot In Unchartered Territories – Razeen Khalid’s Unorthodox Career Part 3

Read Parts 1 & 2 if you have not already.

After his stint in Thailand, England and Singapore would be his next destinations. What happens next? Read on to find out more.

England & Singapore – Finally Signed But For How Long?

Razeen’s family resided in Reading, and since he wanted to spend more time with his parents, he started scouting for opportunities around the region.

After watching some matches in English non-league football [the 5th, 6th & 7th tier or the National Leagues], he believed that he could play at that level.

After applying for multiple teams, Razeen finally got a trial offer from Maidenhead United, then in the Blue Square South National League (6th tier). Travelling 15 miles daily from Reading, Razeen impressed during the trials and secured a position with the club.

“The training facilities were awesome, man. We had two places that we trained, sometimes at a school and sometimes at Bisham Abbey – it’s one of the places where prominent teams like Manchester United and overseas clubs come to train. I would have never had this experience given normal circumstances.”

Yet, not everything was professional. For away games, Razeen had to carpool for hours on end. After few months with Maidenhead, he moved to Reading Town FC for the rest of the season. It was a transfer that Razeen had wanted because he wanted to be closer to home. After a while, travelling 15 miles back and forth to training took its toll on Razeen as the fixtures began to pile up. Reading Town was in the 6th tier league back then but had strategic relationships with Reading FC of the Premier League.

Playing Football in England was enjoyable and experience filling, but then, after 8 months and out of the blue, Razeen got an offer to trial with Sengkang Punggol FC, then managed by Singapore legend Aide Iskandar. This trial took place during the 2010 mid-season window of the SPL, and Razeen felt it was time to return home to Southeast Asia and have another shot with a foreign pro team.

Usually, it’s Singaporean players who venture to Malaysia for opportunities and the opposite never happens (except the Harimau Muda A and B teams that competed in the S.League). So, in many ways, Razeen’s trial with Sengkang Punggol is a rarity for sure. So, naturally, Aide was curious.

The former Singapore international probably checked in with his sources in Malaysia and knew Razeen wasn’t a national team player and therefore wondered what he was doing there.

“I remember Jordan Webb was there and he welcomed me very well – we are still friends until now and I even represented him as an agent for Malaysia league! I had a week-long trial with the Sengkang Punggol and I finally got my call. Aide Iskandar spoke to me and said, ‘Razeen, you play well and I heard many good things about you. But, I know that you are also coming back from an injury.’

“I did have a knee-related injury during my time in England but I was okay. I could play again but I was not 100%. But, of course, he can tell the difference coming back from an injury layoff. So Aide said, ‘you’re not ready for the mid-season but I want you to come back in December for the start of next season.’ Aide was very professional when I was there and he’s a very good guy.”

However, that return would never materialise. Sometime after the trial, while training with ATM to keep fit (the team that represents the Malaysian Armed Forces), Razeen suffered the same injury again. – this time more severe. Apparently, he had been playing for months without a cruciate knee ligament and he did not know about it.

A choice had to be made and Razeen contacted Aide to inform him that he had to stop football. Funnily enough, their paths would cross once again at the SCC Singapore Soccer 6s, and Aide vividly remembered Razeen and joked how he was one of the few players who declined an offer by him.

“I still play socially but my career never got to the highs that I think it could have reached. I really don’t know what I could have achieved in my 20s – being tall, trained in America and commanding. I do think I could have gone further but it is something I will never know.”

The Agent

Returning to the Oil and Gas industry on a full-time basis, as you would expect it, thus, with some extra cash on hand, Razeen built up an elite social team.

“The motto of my company is ‘Making the Unmade, Changing the Game.’ Obviously, I did not have that motto back then, but my mentality was to change the game for clubs and teams. So, I formed this amateur team comprised of out-of-contract players who were mostly foreign players stranded around Kuala Lumpur. It was just foreigners. There were also a few Malaysian free agent players. So, I was recruiting and scouting these players for my team.”

However, make no mistake. This team didn’t simply train and play against other social clubs. Instead, Razeen ensured this team was constantly kept busy by scheduling regular friendlies against professional clubs and state teams. 

After some time, it was kind of natural for Razeen to transition to being an agent. To some extent, he already was acting as an agent. Referring to Razeen as “Big Brother,” these foreign players would ask Razeen for help for representation. After negotiating with clubs on behalf of these players, Razeen found a new calling in the football world. 

In 2014, Razeen opened up an agency in England and operated more as an advisor to clubs, coaches and players. A year later, he would become a consultant for Bali United and helped them with marketing work. Then in January 2016, he engineered his first transfer move in Malaysia. Razeen had scouted South Korean defender Ha Dae-won who was then playing at Bali before getting released mid-way through the year. Razeen would help Ha sign with Sime Darby.

“My first signing in Malaysia. It was for Daewon Ha into Sime Darby FC. The transfer was from Bali United FC.” Image Credits: Razeen Khalid

Since then, Razeen would grow from strength to strength and expand his business. Besides representing Franklin Anzité, he also brought Jorg Steinebrunner (another familiar name in Singapore) to Negri Sembilan in 2017. In addition, he also brought Víctor Coto Ortega to Singapore, the first Costa Rican professional player to play in Singapore.

During the signing of Franklin Anzite into PKNP FC (now called Perak 2 FC). Photo Courtesy of a Razeen Khalid.

Today, you can find Razeen managing more local Malaysian footballers. Amidst the COVID-19 backdrop in 2020, Razeen started to represent more local players, starting with mixed blood or foreign players with Malaysian heritage. For example, through his client Terengganu FC, Razeen represents English-born Malaysian Darren Lok, who came in from JDT. Another player that Razeen represents is Scottish-born Malaysian Stuart Wark, who moved from PDRM. While Razeen usually managed foreign players because he can resonate with them, he realised gaps in the local football system that needed filling. By 2021, Razeen now represents more than 10 local players in Malaysia.

Razeen With Tomas Trucha. Image Credits: Razeen Khalid

Outside of Southeast Asia, Razeen is also doing a lot of work in Eastern European countries. Razeen also represents Czech Republic coach Tomas Trucha, from UEFA Champions League and Europa League side Viktoria Plzen. Coach Trucha is currently doing wonders for Penang FC in the Malaysian Super League.

Razeen with Wan Kuzain (MLS/USL) & Diniz Irwan (Germany Oberliga). Image Credits: Razeen Khalid

One player that he has been representing in Eastern Europe and a future Malaysian star in the making is wonderkid Omar Raiyan Kama Azlan. Omar is currently playing Red Star Belgrade’s youth teams and has been steadily progressing through the ranks.

“To be real, in two to three years, he has a real shot to be in the UEFA Champions League with Red Star Belgrade. Of course, that depends on Red Star winning the Serbian League, but they really could. They’re a good team.”

Other than Omar, he has also signed five other Malaysian under-21 players whom he hopes to groom as players who will become future Malaysian stalwarts. 

Razeen, together with his brother Shahir, have also recently launched TRAINE (Instagram: @traineclub), their own physiotherapy, recovery and fitness centre in Kuala Lumpur that can help professional football athletes receive elite conditioning and training.

The future seems bright for Razeen, looking to expand his operations overseas and has the Middle East in his sights. Whatever may come, expect big things from the big man.

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