Southeast Asia Malaysia

Brendan Gan: The incredible story of one footballer’s battle with two ACL injuries

More devastatingly, within the span of a week, Brendan had realized that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) or even the Kelantan Football Association (KAFA) were not going to financially support his recovery and rehab. So he packed his bags and flew back to Australia to begin the painstaking process for the second time in two years.

“What hurt the most was the timing, because I was in form and I was taking big strides in improving my overall game. I am all about self development, being better than I was yesterday, improving on all the small minor details and making sure I give 100% in everything I do. So to get cut down by a major injury automatically eliminates all the hard work and success I was having at that moment.

“Football was a love and passion for me and it was never a job until the day I picked up my second injury. Having no financial help from my club or FAM was difficult. Investing in myself wasn’t a difficult call to make, it was just frustrating because my family and I had to fork out our own money despite me still having an active contract at that point.”

Imagine that. You give you heart and soul on the field for your club and country as a footballer. You walk fearlessly into the battlefields, you crawl through trenches and you make sacrifices few people are willing to do. But when you find yourself getting hit by a bullet one day, your world caves in on you and all of a sudden, you’re left alone by the powers that be. Left alone to bear the financial cost of recovery. Left alone to physically deal with the incredible pain. Left alone to fight a mental battle with anxiety, frustration and insecurities. Minutes begin to seem like days. Hours begin to seem like weeks. How does someone maintain their composure or even sanity in a situation like that?

Photo Credit: Brendan Gan


“I didn’t want to watch football, think about football or be around football. I watched a few Malaysia Super League games and national team games but for the most part, I wanted nothing to do with football. It hurt me to think about it, it made me anxious, frustrated and I’d start asking negative questions like: “Why did this happen to me?”. Injuries happen and it’s part and parcel of being an athlete, let alone a footballer. But I didn’t want to be surrounded by the one thing I loved, but couldn’t do or participate in, for a prolonged period of time.

“When you are playing well everyone wants to be your friend, everyone wants to be a part of the success, but when your down or injured those people disappear and no one is around to help you through. You can get into your own mind and become very self obsessed when going through a long term injury as well. Thankfully, I had incredible support from family and friends. They were my biggest support system especially my fiancee.

“During rehab, she knew when to say ‘get up and stop making excuses’ and she also knew when to ask me to slow down a little bit. One of the hardest parts of rehab is you have days where you feel absolutely fantastic and you feel like you can be back playing on the pitch again. But those days can be dangerous because accidents can happen, and my fiancee understood this and was always able to notice when I pushing a little too hard.”