“It took six long months to find him. It started with calls to everyone we knew - that didn’t work. Next step, next step, next step . . . if a person wants to stay hidden they can. It was hard, but I was determined to find him,” said Dane.
With an obsession for history and accuracy, Dane Sharp has been on an intriguing journey for the last three years, chasing the truth that lies behind the Abbas Saad story. Abbas Saad’s brilliant football career was abruptly ended with charges of match fixing and a total ban on soccer related activity in Singapore for 15 years.
Having shared a football club with Abbas many years ago, Dane’s curiosity was pricked to start him on the trail to find the real truth behind the scandal that rocked the Singapore Lions in 1994.
Travelling through seven countries armed with three years of research, Dane and Touchwood Productions producer Duncan Wood, along with Abbas, tracked down and interviewed the illusive key witness, Michael Vana who had remained silent on the events of 1994 for 17 years.
“As I gathered all the information on the documentary, it changed dramatically from what was a single account of truth to a story of three dimensions,” said Dane.
“The first dimension covers how I came to piece the story together, to gathering evidence and information of his career, to the most powerful dimension which is the healing of a relationship between two players who got caught up in one of the biggest scandals in football history.”
At the age of 16, Dane decided to pursue his dreams to play soccer around the globe.
First trying out in England, things eventually fell into place with Dane signing to Horne FC in Austria. The dreams of a young Nelson Bay boy were starting to become a reality until a twist of fate brought new plans into play. A devastating knee injury brought a promising career to an abrupt end but out of the ruin, a new love of music and song writing emerged when Dane was handed a guitar while recuperating.
“The song Falls into Place is about my life up to this point: at 23 I did my knee in. I came back from it, but I wasn’t the player I used to be. It was sort of a downward spiral from there,” said Dane.
After battling through another three years, Dane was the injury flared up agian. At age 25 he found himself questioning the possibility of a new dream.
“I picked up the guitar again and played and played and started writing down my feelings and over a period it just blended; I channelled all that frustration into music. But I never thought it would lead to this,” he said.
From there it was a natural progression from open mike nights to restaurants and pubs but it was only a matter of time before Dane realised he would have to take himself to the next level.
“The next step is where you have your own songs and you need a CD. I took out a bank loan, cut my own CD with people I knew. By some chance the drummer knew someone in a record label,” said Dane.
After playing a series of shows in Nashville, Dane signed to independent label Touchwood Productions in 2007. He released his debut album Nothing to Lose in February 2008.
Dane put’s his success down to a chain of fortunate events. Another of these unfolded when his record producer Duncan Wood suggested branching out into documentaries. It was the next phase of his life.
“I love history. Because I knew that Saad’s history was written up wrong, because I knew the person. I knew it could be an amazing documentary,” said Dane.
“I had thought about it for years but was never attached to a production company and it was just by chance, through music, that I was able to create the documentary.”
Dane and his wife Jacqui moved to Tamborine Mountain five years ago describing it as “a dream come true”. After spending the last 13 years juggling a music career while working for Nike Australia, Dane is now in an enviable position where he can call on his skills as a Professional Football Player, a Nike Retail Manager and a creative singer/songwriter to help advance the needs of Australasia’s Football Clubs.
In 2011, Nike Management promoted Dane to his position with Team Sports Australasia where he helps rural and big city clubs to raise necessary funds and create skilled training programs.
“My life is so crazy on a daily basis when I come home to the mountain it’s like a breath out – I love the little coffee shops, the bush walks, the atmosphere and the good people,” he said.
The highly anticipated documentary The Turning Point of the Game – The Abbas Saad Story will be released later this year.