Manchester United

"In this football world it is really tough" - Indonesia's Arthur Irawan

Everyone aspires to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, but behind the top crop of elite players who grace our screens, there are thousands of footballers simply making their way in the game.

In a Planet Sport exclusive we caught up with Indonesia international and Persija Jakarta defender, Arthur Irawan, who spoke about his career path and the experience he has had, in professional football. This man has represented his country and been signed by a team in the Premier League, La Liga and the Indonesian Liga 1.

As a young teen he was a sharp talent who was quickly sized up by European giants Manchester United, out of the blue:

I was in an academy and this coach sent some of his best boys to England for some trial games. There was a Manchester United scout there who happened to be watching my game, he came up to me and asked me some questions, my parents were there too actually. He said that if I was to move here (to the UK) then I could play in the United academy. This was when I was thirteen, my parents weren’t so keen but two years later I took up on the offer.”

After this opportunity of a lifetime, Arthur was unable to obtain a work permit to play competitively in England, so had to settle for living life on the fringes at his new club.

Arthur, is a man very grateful for the opportunity, in his eyes as one door closes, another opens:

“I went to Spain for some trials, including Espanyol. So I ended up signing four years with them before I moved to Malaga. I have been through a lot of places, which is a blessing in itself from God, it’s not the typical footballer’s route, especially coming from where I do, but I don’t believe in luck, I believe in destiny. Every problem that I have faced, there has been a door to go through.”

Destiny not luck. Arthur accredits every high and low very closely to his belief in God. This is what enabled him to accept that he couldn’t remain a Red Devil and then jump into the trials with La Liga outfits Malaga and Espanyol. A move that ultimately gave him the best years of his footballing education.

Currently, still only 24, he plays back home in Indonesia and is helping to raise the profile of Liga 1, which is now attracting top players such as Michael Essien (ex-Chelsea), Carlton Cole (ex-West Ham) and Didier Zokora (ex-Tottenham).

When asked would he be where he is today without his faith:

“No, no chance, imagine you have nothing to work for, where do you find the sense to get out bed in the morning and go train? In this football world it is really tough, you’ve just got to not doubt and trust in God.”