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Ronny Johnsen can inspire local footballers: Jahid

KOTA KINABALU: Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Jahid Jahim is excited about Manchester United legend Ronny Johnsen coming over to Sabah this weekend, saying the former defender can inspire local footballers to pursue a professional career in the sport.

“Local players, youngsters, look up to him as a role model. Even though the Sabah football scene still has a lot to develop, Johnsen is proof that it is possible to make a living out of being a professional footballer.

United Malaysia’s 4th Annual Dinner organising committee chairman Fabian Faurillo (fourth from left) presenting an official club shirt to Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Jahid Jahim while United Malaysia president Batholomew Jingulam (middle) and other committee members look on. SNT Pix/Credit United Malaysia

“However, it requires proper discipline, a professional mindset, dedication and strong will power,” he told a delegation from United Malaysia, the nation’s official Manchester United supporters’ club, on Tuesday.

The delegation, led by its president Batholomew Jingulam, paid a courtesy call to Jahid at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) grounds near here, to brief him on United Malaysia’s 4th Annual Dinner at Hakka Hall this Friday (June 28).

Jahid, who has never missed United Malaysia’s annual do, also agreed to sponsor one of the dinner’s lucky draw prizes comprising an all-expenses paid trip to watch Man Utd play at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

Johnsen, who was part of the famous treble-winning Manchester United team in the 1998 – 1999 season, is slated to appear as a special guest at the annual dinner, which starts at 6pm.

Prior to the dinner, Johnsen is also scheduled to appear in a meet-and-greet session at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu lobby from 3pm to 4pm.

Jingulam agreed with Jahid’s sentiments and added that Johnsen’s appearance is not only a boon for Manchester United supporters here but also spur interest of local football players.

Supporters from all over Malaysia including Kuala Lumpur and Kuching as well as from Brunei will attend the dinner.

“Hopefully next year, we will be able to get another ex-United player to come (to Sabah).

“We will also try to increase the number of tables available at the venue next year, considering the fact that we have received an extraordinary amount of ticket purchases this year,” said Jingulam.

Meanwhile, the annual dinner’s organising committee chairman Fabian Faurillo advised those attending the dinner to come early in view of the evening traffic rush this Friday.

Faurillo said they are expecting an extraordinary turnout this year with 116 tables all sold out and a former United player coming.

“It’s a working day so do please plan your journey and come early.

“This is also so you don’t miss a golden opportunity to be up close and personal with Johnsen in a mini greet-and-meet session starting at 6pm,” he said.-SabahNewsToday