Jacob Mahler – Singapore Young Lions Fantastic Captain

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SINGAPORE – Jacob Mahler is a soldier.

The six-hour shoot includes five outfit changes, countless poses and interviews on and off camera. But the 22-year-old national footballer does not once ask for a break.

“I try my best to go all out in everything I do, and I want to make sure I do the job right and not waste everyone’s time,” he says. “Ever since I was young, my parents taught me that if I want to do something and I agree, I have to give 100%.”

This life lesson from his Danish father and Singaporean-Chinese mother, along with his talent and professionalism, propelled him into his football career.

At 18, in just under eight months, Mahler went from under-18 to big league action with the national team.

Then he was named captain of the Young Lions Under-23 team – a role he was looking forward to at this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

But just a month before the semi-final qualifier against Malaysia in Hanoi, Mahler received devastating news that would rule him out of the regional competition.

Recalling that fateful moment, he says, “I heard a pop in my knee, but I could still walk and put pressure on my legs with minimal pain at that time. So I thought It was just a strain and nothing serious, and I will be able to come back for the game after resting for a few weeks.”

He went for a check-up the next day and, after an MRI, learned the severity of his injury. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus while representing the Young Lions against Tampines Rover Football Club in the AIA Singapore Premier League.

“I was in a daze at first and when it finally settled down I burst into tears,” he says. “It was very sad news because the SEA Games are a big deal and as captain I was really looking forward to leading the country and bringing some glory to Singapore.”

The injury, which required him to undergo surgery, will also see him out of the field for the rest of the year.

Despite the setback, he took things in his stride. His priority, he says, is to make sure he “works hard to fully recover and start afresh next year”.

It is clear that Mahler, who will soon complete his national service (NS), is a football enthusiast. It’s a passion that began at the age of seven, when he watched his first football match on television with his father.

“I remember enjoying watching the game with him and wanting to play,” he says. “So I told my dad I wanted to do this.”

Charles P. Patton