FAS signs goalkeeper guru
Martens, who groomed the likes of Chelsea's Courtois, will work until end December
The national football team have had a string of outstanding goalkeepers overs the years, starting with Eric Paine and Edmund Wee in the 1970s through to David Lee, Rezal Hassan, Lionel Lewis, Hassan Sunny and, now, Izwan Mahbud.
But, at last month's launch of the FAS Grassroots Coaching Manual, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical director Michel Sablon warned there was a dearth of good goalkeepers coming through the youth ranks.
The Belgian has asked a friend to help.
On Sablon's recommendation, the FAS yesterday announced the appointment of Belgian Guy Martens as consulting goalkeeper coach on a short-term contract until the end of the year.
Martens, 56, is the goalkeeper coach who developed Belgium No. 1 and Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois, and others like Sinan Bolat, Laszlo Koteles and Logan Bailly.
After almost a quarter of a century's service at Belgian Pro League club KRC Genk, Martens left and was touted as a possible addition to the Chelsea backroom, but chose to join the FAS instead.
"I had intended to take a break after 25 years of coaching," explained Martens.
"But when Michel contacted me and shared with me about the exciting plans in place for Singapore football, I decided to take up the offer on a short-term basis.
"I could have remained in Europe, but I decided to take up this challenge as I strongly believe in the vision and direction of the Singapore federation... I look forward to playing my part in bringing Singapore football to the next level, especially in terms of guiding its goalkeepers and goalkeeper coaches."
Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois says the FAS has pulled off a coup.
"Singapore will definitely benefit from having Guy on board. I would have loved to work with him again, but I am happy for him that he is going on a new adventure in Singapore," Courtois said in the statement.
"He is the best goalkeeper coach I have ever worked with, and I learnt everything from him.
"He is very special and committed, and helped me improve as a player. I am sure he will improve any goalkeeper he works with in Singapore."
Sablon's extensive contacts and network of friends obviously helped in the hiring of Martens.
He said: "He was extremely excited after I shared with him an overview of the association's vision and plans.
"To have someone of his stature coaching our goalkeepers in Singapore and guiding our goalkeeper coaches would be tremendously beneficial to us.
"His experience is invaluable and we are delighted to welcome him to Singapore."
FAS president Zainudin Nordin credited the recent partnership deal with MP & Silva for providing additional resources to recruit top technical staff, like former Belgium technical director Sablon and national youth coach Richard Tardy, and hinted that more top-notch backroom staff could be brought in.