The Business Standard caught up with Saad and talked about the league being cancelled, his start in football, his injury, how he came back and his famous goal against India.
Saltlake Stadium, Kolkata, India. 80,000 people chanting India's name. But in the 42nd minute, a 21-year Sylheti youngster made them all fall silent.
That was Md Saad Uddin, a young Bangladeshi winger, who had just overcome a career-threatening injury. And he knew he had a point to prove in that match as players in Bangladesh have struggled to see their national career bloom after a big injury.
And he did. From skipper Jamal Bhuyan's floated free-kick, Saad headed in to score his first international goal in a World Cup qualifying match away from home to hand Bangladesh the lead. The match ended in a draw as Adil Khan equalised for India later on, but Saad had already shown what he could do.
The Business Standard's Shams Rahman caught up with Saad and talked about the league being cancelled, his start in football, his injury and how he came back.
TBS: How do you feel about the league being cancelled?
None of us (the players) thought that the league would be cancelled. We came to know out of the blue that the league was cancelled. None of the players could accept it as we were all waiting for the league to restart. But we have to accept the reality. So, there will be a new league season in the near future and we are preparing for that.
TBS: Have you all received full payments from the clubs after the league was cancelled?
I am not sure that every club has handed the full payment to the players, I think most of them paid 70-80% of the salaries. How they will sign contracts with the players for the next season is yet to be seen as the BFF has not come to a decision yet.
TBS: You are one of the fittest players in the Bangladesh team. How are you working on your fitness in this lockdown?
It is tough to keep up our fitness now as we cannot go to the gym or follow the other programs required. But still, I am trying to do individual practise twice a day to maintain my fitness.
TBS: Your career started with the Bangladesh U-16 side. How did you get there?
I started playing and practising in Sylhet. Then I went to play in the first division in Dhaka under Jilani sir (Syed Golam Jilani). He took me to the Sylhet BKSP and after participating in a camp for four months, the selections for the U-16 side started. I did not get into the squad initially but with the help of Jilani sir and due to a player crisis, I got in. Then I played for the U-16 national side and became SAFF champions.
I played for the U-19 side only two months after playing for the U-16 side. Then I played for Victoria and after a year, Abahani signed me up in 2016.
TBS: Was getting into football difficult for you? Did your family stand in your way?
No, my family fully supported me and they still do.
TBS: You were signed by Abahani just after a season of playing for Victoria. How delighted were you to play for Abahani at such a young age?
I was very shocked by the news. After a day of practice for the U-19 team, BFF President Kazi Salahuddin asked me to come to his office and told me a few things. (Satyajit Das) Rupu da was there and he said in front of the President that he would take me to Abahani. I was very excited to hear the news because that would mean I would get to practice with big players there. Abahani had a great team at the time, Lee Tuck was there and so were almost the full national team. I played only four matches in the first season but from the next, I have played regularly.
TBS: How tough was it to adjust to Abahani?
It was really tough. Back then, George Kotan was Abahani's coach. He, after hearing of my struggles, promised me opportunities. I wanted to play from the get go. After watching me during the practice sessions, the coach gave me an opportunity and since then, I have tried to do my best.
TBS: You had a horrible accident which threatened your career and you were out for seven months after that injury. Were you afraid that your career might end?
The reality in Bangladesh's football is, if someone is injured, then their national team career comes to a halt. They also fail to continue regularly at the club level. This is the reality I have been seeing for the last few years. I might be the only player to play regularly for the national team after such a big injury.
TBS: What motivated you during that time? Who helped you get through it?
After I got injured, I only thought about returning to the national side. It did not matter to me if I played club football regularly or not. I was injured after playing in the SAFF and what motivated me in those seven months is that I will have to be fit again for the national side.
Everyone around me saw my hard work. My family, my club supported me a lot during that time. People around me backed me saying that my hard work will definitely reap rewards. Everyone's support made my will stronger.
TBS: Your first international goal was against India in the World Cup qualifier. How did you feel after that goal?
Let me go back a little. Before I was injured, I played well in the SAFF and the Asian Games. I scored against North Korea in the Asian Games. I had created a place for myself in the side but after the injury, I saw myself drop down the pecking order. I was thinking that I had to do something to earn my place back.
So, I had a point to prove against India. And after I scored that goal, everybody said that I made a great comeback from my injury.
Also, I was very happy to score my first international goal in such an important away match.
TBS: Were disappointed when Bangladesh conceded late to draw the match?
Yes, definitely, We also missed a lot of opportunities, four to be exact. But we all tried. It was a very tough match, they had massive support behind them whereas we had none. But still, we have our home match coming and Almighty willing, we will win that match.
TBS: What do you like about Jamie Day?
He is a very good coach. He is very friendly and knows how to extract the best from the players. He has brought us to a place regarding fitness, planning, practice in the last two years and we have got some success under him.
He gives a great deal of importance to keeping players fit. We are very happy that he has renewed his contract for a couple of years more and expect good things in the future.
TBS: Do you dream of playing in the World Cup?
Every player dreams of playing in the World Cup. For us, achieving that dream is very tough. It is our bad luck that we are quite far away from qualifying in the World Cup. But still, I will try to get to a strong position in Asia and then, let's see.
TBS: Who is your footballing idol?
From my childhood, I liked to watch Lionel Messi play. In terms of fitness, I follow Cristiano Ronaldo. But I like Messi a lot and I still watch him play. So, it was Messi who inspired me.
TBS: Which team do you support?
I supported Argentina during my childhood but now I like quite a few teams such as - England, Netherlands, France.
I watch the English Premier League the most at the club level and Liverpool is my favourite there.