Singapore Football

'I deserve more than one cap'

1 How did you get started in football?

I played for the youth team of Gibraltar Crescent (the precursor to Sembawang Rangers) because they trained at my neighbourhood field at Chong Pang in Yishun.

When I was 14, I used to hang around the first team's training session and help out by carrying and pumping the footballs, things like that. Actually, I wanted to train with the seniors!

Sometimes their goalkeeper would be late, so I would always be hoping: "Got goalkeeper or not? If not, maybe I would get my chance". After a while, the coach Yow Tian Bey asked me to come down regularly.

The senior goalkeepers were happy I was there - more goalkeepers meant less work at training!

Then, when the S.League started in 1996, I was one of those selected to play for Sembawang Rangers.

2 What do you miss most about the early days of the S.League?

The crowds. The interest generated back in the first four or five seasons was huge.

For me, staying in Yishun, playing for Sembawang was a very big deal.

Your kampung friend, your school friend, the coffeeshop makcik, all came to see Sembawang play.

It was a privilege to play for them.

3 Despite always being touted as one of the best local goalkeepers around, you have only one international cap for Singapore, against New Zealand in 1999. Do you feel like you should have had more?

The New Zealand game was an eye-opener for me.

I've always said height is not a problem. But, when you play against a team like them, whose players are huge, it's a struggle.

Personally, I feel like I deserve more than one cap. But, then again, Rezal (Hassan) was in front of me then, and he was a top goalkeeper at that time. Then Lionel (Lewis) came in.

But I have no issues or regrets. I'm someone who can accept that if there's someone better ahead of you, he deserves to play.

4 Which striker did you hate most to play against?

Nicodeme Boucher formerly of Tanjong Pagar. He was the only one whom I have always struggled against.

He was one of those who was not just tall (Boucher stood at 1.97m), but could also jump really high.

He was one of those strikers who didn't just challenge high balls for the sake of it, he really wanted to win it, like Didier Drogba.

Plus, he was also good with the ball at his feet, so he was definitely someone I didn't fancy playing against.

5 What's your best moment in football?

That penalty save in the 2009 Singapore Cup final that won Geylang International the trophy against Bangkok Glass.

It was nothing special but something that you dream of.

You're in a final, you're having a great game, your team are the underdogs, and you save a penalty in the last few minutes to help your team win... It's like a fairy tale.

I've made better saves but, all things considered, this was the best moment.

6 What are your plans after football?

Hopefully, I'll go into coaching, specifically goalkeeper coaching. It's something I enjoy.

It would be the ideal situation, so I can share my experience with the next generation of shot-stoppers.

I currently have an AFC B licence and an AFC Level One goalkeeping coach certificate.

I've been very lucky that all the goalkeeper coaches who I've trained under over the years are not selfish and have shared everything they know to try and better my game.

Given the opportunity, I would do the same.