Hi, my name is Joseph Jireh, I am 21 this year and I have been a Lion City Sailors’ fan since early 2020 when the new project was announced. Before I go into the details and all I would like to start by caveating that I will never be able to do justice to what his departure means to the fans here in Singapore and especially to The Crew. I’d also like to concede that I may not be the most adequate person to write this article. Nonetheless, drawing from such sources like the few years of local football experience I have, reading about Stipe, listening to podcasts and praise from my friends about the man himself, I will try my best to paint a justifiable painting of my emotions and the emotions of the Singapore fans / The Crew on Stipe’s departure.
The Goal Machine
“He scores when he wants he scores when he wants Stipe Plazibat he scores when he wants!” What better way is there to start a deep dive into my thoughts than to rip into what we chant for Stipe. The big man boasts 23 goals in 25 matches played for the Sailors and I think that stat alone would justify me ending this write-up right here hehe. Stipe has been a phenomenal player for the Sailors and personally, I really enjoyed seeing him play in the early part of the season where he and Gabriel Quak combined to come up with the goods (oftentimes reminding me of another prolific pair, Kane and Son of Tottenham Hotspur fame).
I remember back in my schooling days as we were spending late nights studying, we would occasionally watch SPL and we were invested in Stipe and his abilities as he used to almost find the back of the net every single game for Hougang and he helped them do very well that season for the first time after so long. If Stipe’s qualities were not obvious enough, the moment he left Hougang they struggled so much without a replacement for a while (that’s before Doi had to come in of course).
I was listening to a podcast that Stipe featured in last year (shoutout to The Final Whistle) when he just joined the Sailors and he was saying how he really hoped that he could lift the title and that he would work hard for it. He hoped, he came, he wanted the title – and he delivered. Along with the title, Stipe also boasts a Golden Boot from the previous season and in both years that he was with LCS, he was featured in the Team of the SPL season.
He truly scores when he wants.
Smart On and Off the Field
From our few interactions with Stipe, it is clear to see that not only is he talented with the ball at his feet, he is also a very intelligent man. Often times here in Singapore, we are torn between having to choose between studies and playing football – I think Stipe is an inspiration to the students out there who are being forced to choose between the two. This may not be known to some, but Stipe used to play with Ivan Perisic back in his Hajduk Split days, but yet he has a degree, so who’s to say one can’t study and play football? There must have been so many sacrifices involved but it is clear to see from Stipe’s life that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything you set out to achieve.
Stipe was also a staunch advocate for the betterment of the local game, management/running of the league and perceptions and attitudes of fans/Singaporeans to our local game. He always gave credit where credit was due, often bringing up the level of players like Faris, Gabriel, Song and many others with him, allowing them to shine alongside him.
When asked about local football he never shied away from calling out Singaporeans’ reactions to the league. I remember how he used to say that Singaporeans give so much focus and attention to foreign leagues like the English Premier League, and then complain or say so many bad things about Singapore football when many of them don’t even take the time to watch it. This whole Sailors adventure has surely aided and raised the perception of many Singaporeans islandwide of the potential that can be tapped on and the atmosphere that we can create and cultivate for local football. For that, I, on behalf of many other Singaporeans, would like to thank Stipe for helping us too.
What Others Say
I asked my close friend and co-founder of the Crew who has been supporting Home United for a long time what his most memorable memory of Stipe was from the Home United days. Along with sending me a picture of a signed jersey that Stipe gave him, he said this: “That freekick against Global Cebu. Suto fouled, Stipe steps up from 25 yeards. Last-minute, 4-4 on aggregate. Goal. 5-4 winners. Sick memories.”
Thank You, Goodbye, Please Come Back Again
To end it all off, Stipe if you are reading this I (the Crew and many others too) miss you a lot already. There will always only be one Stipe and should you ever want to come back to Singapore we will gladly welcome you back with open arms. Thank you for all the memories you have blessed us with, and thank you for all the sacrifices you have made to help us as a club win the trophy this year. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours and if God wills, maybe we may be able to meet again. Hopefully, if we meet this time I get a chance to get your jersey too ah (last time you say covid cannot pass jersey hahaha) Take care and remember All Hands on Deck my friend. See you on the other side as you voyage across the seven seas.
On behalf of the Crew,
Photo Credits: Singapore Premier League
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