Football

UPBEAT KARAN

Singaporean not offered contract at QPR but he is still keen on pro football

REPORTING FROM LONDON

His story became a hot topic in the local online football community.

The New Paper reported last week that little-known Singaporean footballer Karan Singh was on a two-week trial with the Under-21 team of English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, hoping to earn a professional contract with Harry Redknapp's club.

Sadly, his stint did not work out as he had planned, as the London club told the 22-year-old they could not offer him an U-21 contract because of his age.

If they wanted to keep him, he said, he would have to be offered a professional deal with the first team.

The same first team that boast ex-Premier League stars such as Joey Barton, Yossi Benayoun, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Richard Dunne and Robert Green, to name just a few.

Karan claimed that the club were willing to let him train with the first team to see if he could cut it.

But, the midfielder, who was born and raised in Singapore but moved with his family to New York when he was 13, admitted that he is nowhere near the level needed to make the grade.

"I personally think my standard is not up there," Karan told TNP, when this reporter met him at QPR's Concorde Club academy facility in Cranford on Friday.

"I mean, this is a team fighting to get into the Premier League.

"So I told them if they could find me a lower division team for me to sign with, I'd be more than happy to join that team."

Karan had been training with QPR's U-21 team for two weeks, and his last session with the squad was on Friday.

He will now wait to see if an opportunity at a lower division English team comes up.

If no offer comes along, he says he will either go back to the US, or could head to Singapore and revive his hopes of landing a professional contract with an S.League team.

STINTS

After he completed his National Service in December 2012, Karan has had stints at S.League sides Hougang United, Tampines Rovers and Courts Young Lions, but he failed to secure a contract.

When TNP spoke to QPR's head of education and welfare David Baker, the coach was hesitant to give his opinion on whether Karan possessed enough talent to make it professionally in Europe.

He would only say: "Karan's been here two weeks and he has worked incredibly hard at improving his game.

"He's been getting an understanding of the fitness standards needed at a higher level, and he's been undergoing skill sessions here at the academy.

"Karan is well aware what he needs to do. He knows what his identified targets are."

Baker added that the player needed to "remain enthusiastic".

The former Zhonghua Primary and Serangoon Garden Secondary student is optimistic that he can realise his dream of playing professionally in Europe.

He said: "I'll just keep pushing. My family have been very supportive and they have backed me all the way.

"They tell me I've made it this far; I should just keep going."

He cites Didier Drogba and Ian Wright, who signed their professional contracts at the age of 21, as examples that late bloomers could still make it.

"There are a few who started at my age," he said.

"Drogba made it as a professional only at 21 or 22, never went to any academy, but built a career for himself.

"So that's definitely an inspiration for me."