Luqman Hakim Shamsudin – Malaysia’s Diamond by Adam Sariman
Name: Luqman Hakim Shamsudin
Date of Birth: 5 th of March, 2002
Height: 170 cm
Club: KV Kortrijk (Belgium Pro League)
Similar Players: Sebastian Giovinco, Wayne Rooney
Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, a young, aspiring Malaysian talent, to which a country who once produced prolific strikers such as Mokhtar Dahari, Safee Sali and Zainal Abidin Hassan who are household legends and were being targeted by clubs overseas, Luqman seemed likely to be joining them as the years progress. As the years became decades, Malaysia’s farm of growing strikers became a rarity and a dying breed, until pops out an unpolished diamond in the heart of Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. ‘Luqie’ was founded by the National Football Development Program (NFDP) of Malaysia before he pursued his career further to Mokhtar Dahari Academy or more commonly known as ‘Akademi Mokhtar Dahari’. Luqman’s name became a national hit during the AFC U-16 Championship in 2018 where he received the Top Goalscorer Award. An emphatic thrashing of 6-2 against Tajikistan who on paper were more fierce and stronger were ‘outplayed’ by the team that was smaller in sizes. Luqman shown the pride of wearing the national jersey and with that lifted the whole team to win.
After an exciting campaign, his talent did not go unnoticed as he quickly rose through the ranks and was called up for U-19 squad to play in the AFF U-19 Youth Championship. Defining his talent, he was instrumental in the country’s road to the semi-final with 4 goals in 5 games. Later on the year, he was named in the Malaysian Squad for the 2019 Sea Games. With no red lights, he moved further and started to establish himself with the crop of senior players who were a few years back were only a star on TV. On the 10 th of October 2019, Luqman Hakim Shamsudin a small boy from Malaysia was named by the Guardian’s Next Generation Top 50, alongside with the likes of Jun Nishikawa, Ryan Gravenberch, Josko Gvardiol and Jeremy Doku. Those names are familiar to readers across the globe who was eyes on the next big thing.
With the sensation that he brought with him with everywhere he goes, rumors started to grow. The whole country was astounded when a local newspaper reported that, a Premier League Club was interested in getting the signature of ‘Luqie’. Newcastle United. A major staple to the league, a club to which every football fan seems to know about their legend, Alan Shearer or maybe the cheeky Santiago Munoz. In a way, that article wreaked havoc to the Malaysian social media during that time and the rumors were quickly to be stormed down. All was good until, a Malaysian- owned football club based in Belgium came calling and ignited the interest in Luqman. We Malaysians saw that as an important steppingstone for him in his career as he will be taken care of by one of our own and will be competing at a higher level than the Malaysian Super League. The deal was completed and soon after Luqman was on his way to kickstart his professional career.
Having a small stature, Luqman shocked the Malaysian netizens again with his body transformation which showed substantial growth in his muscles. This shows his desire to compete with the Europeans and fight for his place in the team. Luqman captured the hearts of Malaysians. Training with the U-23 side for KV Kortrijk he was a regular in the Senior squad with later being given his league debut where he came on in the 74 th minute against a really tough Anderlecht side, to which his team loss 3-1 that night. Luqman showed glimpses of his magic in U-23 where he was seen to score in the U-23 games and show performances at a really high level.
Type of Player
Luqman Hakim’s style of play is probably with the likes of Sebastian Giovinco and a young Wayne Rooney. Explosive amount of space with the confidence in taking on defenders is what made him the unfinished star he is now. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he regularly does body feints to which he adds on his explosive speed to beat the opposing defender with ease. Having a short stature also allowed him to have a low center of gravity to which he cleverly uses to maintain his balance when causing a menace in the box. Ability to shoot from any particular distance is also what makes him standout. His anticipation when to take on the defenders can be more improved if he wants to make the most out of his career as a professional. Nevertheless, his bravery and courage also helps him to take on defenders with ease. His self-belief in his talent helped him to bag the Top Goalscorer in the U-16 AFC Championship.
As mentioned before, ‘Luqie’ is very comfortable in his ability to take on defenders with a few tricks up his sleeve or trying to take a pop at goal. His linking up play with his teammate during the Youth Championships really helped him to make intelligent runs into the box before finishing with a perfectly timed shot. As he is a huge believer of his own talent, he does not shy from taking a pop at goal from distance to which can be seen during the AFF U-19 Championship in 2019 where Luqman scored a screamer from the halfway line during a match against Cambodia. He also managed to score a hat-trick in approximately 2 minutes 11 seconds during a match against Brunei. This just shows how big of a ceiling he can reach as a footballer. He tends to start his movement from the left-hand side of the field before he cuts inside with his right-foot. He tends to drift wide to attract the defenders that are marking him to leave a space behind them to which he can capitalize with his blistering pace. He also has a huge intensity of pressing in him where he can be seen to tirelessly press the opponents defenders into making a mistake. Nevertheless, playing at an U-23 level in a different country with tougher oppositions is a huge learning curb for ‘Luqie’ to take it with a chin up and to see it as an opportunity for him to improve not only as a player but also as a man.
Off the Ball
Out of possession, ‘Luqie’ tends to press the oppositions defenders into making a mistake where he operates more in the middle area before drifting to the wider side of the pitch to cut out all the passing lane of the defenders. Luqman uses his speed and agility to the fullest with the help of his good sense of awareness. Sometimes, pressing can also be his major downfall where sometimes his teammates did not press together as a unit which resulted in massive gaps being left open to exploit to which ‘Luqie’ could not capitalize. Nevertheless, his high level of anticipation came into rescue where he can make crucial interceptions cutting the passes from the wingbacks to progress forward. A young Wayne Rooney, whom tirelessly roams around the pitch scavenging scraps from defenders and not afraid of a good old scrap with the opposition.
Luqman possesses natural talent in the beautiful game, his decision making and his maturity will only nurture him to be alongside, if not, the greats. His high ceiling is an inspiration to all Malaysians who will be always supporting him from afar. Developing his strength and making his weaknesses his strength can only help him to grow further as a footballer. Luqman Hakim Shamsudin one of the few gems of Malaysian football, ready to put Malaysia back on the footballing map.