It was Indonesia against Singapore in soccer’s 2016 AFF Championship – a big match for gifted winger Stefano Lilipaly and his colleagues. The two sides were well-matched and there was nothing it, until Indonesia made the important breakthrough late on. And who netted that crucial 85th-minute winning goal for a 2-1 victory? None other than Lilipaly. It was his first goal for his country and “one of the most significant and important moments in my career”. Lilipaly, aged 29, was born in the Netherlands. His father is Indonesian of Moluccan descent, while his mother is Dutch. He started his football career in the Netherlands, playing for Jong FC Utrecht as a teenager. He took his Indonesian citizenship oath in 2011 and made his debut for the national soccer team in 2013. At club level, he played for Persija Jakarta before joining his current team, Bali United.
“I mean, there’s a lot of pressure in the sport, let’s just be honest about that,” Lilipaly says. “If you do well on the pitch, you are a king and everybody loves you. But when you lose – well, it’s not pretty, to say the least. There’s always going to be criticism from the fans and the media and you have to handle a lot of it when you’re a football player. The feedback is not always positive, but you’ve got to learn from the negative comments as well as the nice ones.
“To me, even if you lose a match, you never really lose, because you can always take something from it in order to learn and become better. If you won all the time, how could you learn? Sometimes, you win when you lose.”
Photographed by Sunaryo
40 UNDER 40: THE VANGUARDS LIST IS PRESENTED BY SULWHASOO, AS PUBLISHED IN PRESTIGE INDONESIA OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE.