Scott Ollerenshaw: The art of being a striker

Tossing and turning, but sleep won’t come. My mind is all over the place; What am I doing wrong? I am doing exactly what I did last year but still, the goals won’t come.

I wake up in the middle of every night and for the next 2 hours, anxiety sets in. I start imagining goal scoring situations and think of what I’ll do? Will I side foot it, will I smash it in – why am I doubting myself?

I have no energy, I feel depressed and I dread going to training everyday. I stay home and avoid public places. I wear cap & glasses when I drive around town. When people do see me, they ask what is wrong. They blame my wife as I recently got married – oh please, when will this nightmare end?

Selangor Sabah Piala Malaysia Cup 1996 Stadium Shah Alam Ribut Greg Azman Adnan Scott Ollerenshaw Matlan Marjan (7)

It’s now 5 games without a goal. I do extra training on some days, I try doing less training on other days. I work on my finishing and I even buy & read Anthony Robbins’ book on The Power of Positive Thinking. But still, last year’s Golden Boot Winner is struggling to score a single goal in 1996.

I keep going, putting myself around the pitch more than usual. Whereas before, I would play smart and wait for the inevitable space & gaps to appear as it always does in SE Asia due to humidity, suddenly I have to now do the donkey work as I am not contributing goals.

It’s now 9 games without a goal, and honestly this is beyond a joke. And then it happens, we are playing Pahang at the Likas Stadium when my best mate Ong Kim Swee makes a marauding run down the right flank into a crossing position. I know that 9 times out of 10, Ong will hit the far post so that’s where I run and suddenly I see the ball floating towards me. Next thing, I jump and head the ball into the net.

I start to run like a mad man. It’s not happiness or joy. It’s just sheer relief and suddenly the weight of the world is off my shoulders.  After that game, I went on a crazy run of goals and somehow still won the Golden Boot in 1996.


And the relevancy of this you ask? Well my heart goes out to Malaysia’s two main strikers at the moment, in Norshahrul & Safee Sali. You don’t suddenly become a bad player overnight. Strikers all around the world are paid the most money because being a goal scoring striker is the hardest job in football. It’s the reason big clubs pay millions of dollars in transfer fees for the best strikers in the world.

Bygones to those who feel insulted but from my perspective, players can be manufactured to play in other positions, particularly those with limited talent. However a striker, is a specialized position that only the real special players can play, survive and of course thrive in.

Trust me when I say it’s not easy being either Norshahrul or Safee at this point in time. They are under a massive amount of scrutiny by both the press & fans, and both can either help them or destroy them at times like this. Yes, mental strength is important for professional footballers but I don’t think people understand what scrutiny & innuendo can do to a player’s mindset. It can lead to self-doubt and massive dip in confidence; which even the strongest of individuals can struggle to overcome.


Safee broke his duck last week against Singapore and after the smoking incident, no doubt he felt tremendous relief in getting on the score sheet. But his job is not done and lets hope that the goal vs Singapore gives him the freedom & inner strength to go out and play like we all know Safee can as he is a player who needs to feel loved by his coach & fans in order to produce his best.

To both Norshahrul & Safee, remember that football is just a game. It’s not life & death. Visualize back to the days when you both played football in your kampungs, when football was a source of joy to you both. Try to get that feeling of youthful enthusiasm back into your soul, go out there on Sunday and have fun. Play with a smile on your face and simply enjoy the match for what it is – a simple game of football, nothing more, nothing less.

Image: Malaysia football fans hold up national

Malaysia enter this game, buoyed by that great performance against Singapore. One gets the feeling they may be hitting form at just the right time. Experienced players like Mahali, Safiq & Amri have been there and seen it all, while Gary Steven will only get better.

Playing the first leg at home, it is imperative that Malaysia don’t concede an away goal. Of course, they will be positive and try to win the game but the most important thing is not to concede. Lets hope there’s a huge crowd at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday to cheer the home boys to victory.

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