Pennant could sign for Tampines today, his 33rd birthday
Club chairman Krishna says general terms already agreed with former Liverpool star
Perhaps it is fitting Jermaine Pennant will celebrate his birthday today.
The former England Under-21 international turns 33, and one of the presents he could unwrap may just be a contract to play for Tampines Rovers in the upcoming Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season.
Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra told The New Paper yesterday that the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger who arrived in Singapore yesterday week for trials with the five-time S.League champions, had already agreed general terms on a one-year deal.
The finer details were being firmed up and Pennant could put pen to paper as early as today. He is set to be formally announced as a Tampines player at a ceremony at the headquarters of club sponsor Komoco Motors on Tuesday.
Said Krishna: "We've already agreed terms with him, for this year and an option to renew (for another year), but the devil's really in the details. I am certain we'll sign him, though."
The 44-year-old managing director of law firm Duane, Morris & Selvam LLP declined to reveal details of Pennant's salary, but said that Komoco Motors have confirmed their sponsorship.
Komoco could be joined by "a couple" of other sponsors who have also shown "serious interest" in helping afford the player's salary.
Various media reports have speculated the figure to be at least $40,000 a month, which would make Pennant the highest-paid player in the 21 years of the S.League.
Even then, he would take a massive pay cut from his last-drawn weekly salary, reported to be £25,000 ($52,590) at English club Wigan.
But he was previously reported as saying: "It's not just about the money, it's about football. In the long run, I'll probably get rewarded in a different way. If I do well at Tampines, I'm sure I'll be rewarded."
Pennant sat out Tampines' training session at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday with an ice-pack strapped to his right thigh, and coach V Sundramoorthy later explained his newest star was simply suffering from a little soreness.
The player declined to speak to media, explaining he had a mutual agreement with Tampines not to say anything to avoid possibly jeopardising contract talks.
But sources revealed he has been looking at various apartments and his family - wife Alice Goodwin, nine-year-old daughter Esme and five-year-old son Trey - will fly in for a visit next month.
Pennant cited the stability and good education system in Singapore as reasons for wanting to raise his children here.
Sources say he turned down offers from clubs in Malaysia and Australia to play for Tampines.
R Sasikumar, the former Singapore international who is now managing director of sports marketing firm Red Card, helped to broker the Pennant deal and is delighted with the progress.
"I'm really happy it has come to this point where terms are agreed," he said.
"When we started, there was a bit of uncertainty, but credit should go to Krishna, who had the vision and (courage) to take this opportunity.
"We've already seen the buzz Jermaine's presence has created, and already there are two camps: One says he's great for the S.League, another says he will be a waste of money.
"But credit to him, he's looked past all of that and carried himself very well. He's such a humble guy and very misunderstood.
"Hopefully, he will sign the contract soon and don Tampines colours."
Pennant has made a telling impact during his one-week trial with the Stags.
In a friendly match against Hougang United, more than 1,200 fans turned up to watch him in action; a remarkable attendance considering many S.League matches attract half that number.
Meanwhile, Tampines' planned pre-season training camp to Malaysia, originally slated from today till Tuesday, has been scrapped.
The Stags will now play Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta'zim II in a friendly on Wednesday, ahead of their Asian Champions League qualifier against India's Mohun Bagan in Kolkata on Jan 27.
- Additional reporting by SHAMIR OSMAN