Goalie Trần Tiến Anh seen induring an international competition. — Photo thanhnien.vn
HÀ NỘI — Goalie Trần Tiến Anh is remembered by most fans for his error that led to the Vietnamese national team's loss to Singapore in the 1998 Tiger Cup (now AFF Cup) final.
Singapore won their first Tiger Cup thanks to a goal from Sasi Kumar in the 71st minute.
Even today, Anh is still haunted by his mistake.
“It was a situation where I rushed out to punch the ball. It was not a very difficult situation. However, due to bad judgment, the ball fell on the back of Singapore midfielder Kumar and slowly rolled into the net. At that moment I felt that everything had collapsed under my feet. Looking at the stands, fans at Hàng Đẫy Stadium seemed to be shocked and I knew then we had lost the Tiger Cup, even though there were 20 minutes left to play,” said Anh.
Kumar recently recalled that it started with a corner kick that Việt Nam managed to clear. The ball was played back in for him to attack, and the rushed out looking at him instead of the ball.
The Singaporean knew he had a chance to score, but the oncoming Anh put him off so he turned his back. Both players missed the ball, but it bounced off Kumar’s back into the back of the net.
According to Kumar, he went crazy and celebrated because he knew his team would take the title.
Following the 1998 Tiger Cup final, Kumar's goal became an obsession for not only Anh but also for many Vietnamese football fans.
"This obsession has followed me for a long time. Although my teammates and the training board encouraged me a lot, I couldn’t forget it. Even when I slept I dreamt about it," said Anh.
Vũ Tiến Thành, former assistant coach of the national team, said they were very disappointed about that result because Việt Nam had never been so close to winning the championship before, especially after a convincing 3-0 win over Thailand in the semi-finals.
“Before the final, Việt Nam were very confident of winning the championship, so when the losing goal went in we were very sad and felt like the sky had collapsed. After the match, we cried a lot. We received the silver medal and we forced cheerful smiles. However, honestly, we didn’t blame any individual," said Thành.
Goalie Trần Tiến Anh (right) and Hà Nội’s training boad with the V.League 1 title in 2018. — Photo thanhnien.vn
Anh, 48, was born into a family of goalkeepers. Anh's father was Trần Văn Vĩnh, a talented goalkeeper for Việt Nam Post and the national team in the 1960s. Vĩnh’s three younger brothers Trần Văn Khánh, Trần Văn Thành and Trần Văn Trung were also famous goalkeepers for the national team in the 1970s and 1980s.
His mother Nguyễn Thị Ngân was a famous national volleyball player with more than 40 years of competition.
Anh loved football since he was very small, and he often followed his father and uncles to the football ground.
When he was 12 years old, he joined the Thể Công team and quickly proved his talent, before claiming the No 1 jersey for the military team.
In 1998, Anh helped Thể Công win the national championship. That season, he only conceded 20 goals in 26 matches, the best in the league. He also won the best goalkeeper award that year.
“Anh was a good goalkeeper for Thể Công. He contributed to the championship in 1998. The goal at the 1998 Tiger Cup final was a freak accident," said former Thể Công defender Nguyễn Đức Thắng.
However, due to injuries in 2000, Anh retired from competition.
In 2008, he became the goalkeeping coach for Hải Phòng and helped the team finish third in the V.League 1 that year.
At present, Anh is coaching at Hà Nội FC. The successes the capital team have achieved in the past decade have all been silent contributions to Anh. Hà Nội’s goalies such as Nguyễn Văn Công and Phí Minh Long have made significant progress between the sticks thanks to Anh. — VNS