A FRIENDSHIP between a Malaysian Prince and a Socceroo is one of the Asian Cup’s most unlikely, but underlines Australia’s deep roots in the Confederation.

Socceroos left-back Jason Davidson was a toddler when he moved to Pahang FA after his father Alan was signed by the Malaysian giants in 1992 from Melbourne Croatia.

It is there Jason started kicking a ball, often the only kid allowed on the sidelines of the club’s training ground, a luxury afforded to the Davidson’s because of his father’s legend status at Pahang.

His Royal Highness, Prince Abdullah Al Haj Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, was president of Pahang FA at the time and saw Jason take his first steps.

“I tell everyone that Jason grew up in Pahang and I know his dad,’’ Prince Abdullah said.

“He used to play with my son, who is a few years older.

“I saw the (Socceroos) before the first match and wished them all the best and said it was important that Australia as the host nation plays in the final. My projection came through.

“I’m proud to see him playing for the first team (Socceroos) and that he made it in the World Cup team and still playing.’

Junior Davidson’s memory of Pahang is sketchy, as the family returned to Melbourne when he was six, but he’s crossed paths with Prince Adbullah often since.

“I’m very grateful for the way that Prince Abdullah looked after me and my family when I was growing up. I had a wonderful experience in Malaysia,’’ he said.

Prince Abdullah, who was appointed the Crown Prince of Pahang age 16, is now vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

He revealed that Jason’s father was still an icon at Pahang FA, where his brother is now president.

“Alan is a legend in my state and he was the pillar of the team, he was the defender, playmaker and we don’t have that player anymore,’’ Prince Abdullah said.

“He’s brought a lot of good memories and he’s very popular in my part of the world.’’

Prince Abdullah’s career in sports administration started at Pahang in 1984, when he was appointed president of Pahang FA.

Today he is chairman of the Asian Cup, and he praised Australia for breaking records, predicting it could be a seminal moment for football.

“This tournament has superseded all the previous tournaments, the gate collection, viewers. And it’s a good ending,’’ Prince Abdullah said.

“When I was first appointed as chairman everyone said Australia is not a football country and they were quite sceptical about the event.

“Australia, especially the football family, wanted to prove that the game is here to stay and want to see it grow.

“This tournament has given us some awareness about Australian football and it’s growing. It’s catching up to other sports like rugby and cricket.’’


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