Marc making his mark
Steven Tan's 14-year-old son trains with West Ham, Charlton and Stoke
Paul Heffer helped develop the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, turning them from young dreamers into England stars.
Marc Ryan Tan, the 14-year-old son of Singapore's Malaysia Cup hero Steven Tan, has managed to glean some tips from the long-serving West Ham assistant academy director, as he continues on his journey to become a professional footballer.
Marc is in England with four teammates from the F-17 Academy on a 10-day training tour of several clubs, organised by United States-based sports management company Global Image Sport.
The Singapore Sports School student is the only one from the Republic among the five boys.
The five earned the opportunity to train in London when they impressed West Ham's academy coaches, who conducted a training camp for about 25 youth footballers in Singapore last November.
Marc's dad, a member of the 1994 Malaysia Cup-winning Singapore side, is accompanying the group in his capacity as F-17 coach.
He said: "Paul watched the boys for only one session, he told them about how the West Ham academy works and how to play the West Ham way.
"He also told the boys what coaches look for in a young player."
Ex-Singapore international and F-17 academy coach Steven Tan. PHOTO: COURTESY OF STEVEN TAN
LOTS TO LEARN
Marc, who can play as a striker or winger, said: "The training sessions here are completely different from how I train in Singapore, or even how I experienced in Japan (on attachment at J-League club Matsumoto Yamaga in June).
"I still have a lot to learn. I want to watch the different ways the different clubs train, and gain experience from them."
The five boys trained at the academy of Charlton Athletic from Tuesday to Thursday last week, and then were put through their paces by Heffer and West Ham academy coaches on Friday.
On Saturday, they caught Arsenal's 3-2 win over Swansea at the Emirates Stadium.
They started training at Stoke City's academy on Sunday, and will return to Singapore tomorrow.
Tan, 45, said: "The boys' attitude has been good.
"They've done well and worked hard, and followed what they've been instructed to do.
"As for Marc, the boys here are bigger than him but, in terms of speed, he's one of the fastest."
Marc, whose ambition is to earn a professional contract in Europe, said: "The English boys are much bigger than us, and basically, the training sessions are a big step-up in intensity.
"The toughest thing so far, though, has been the weather.
"It's so hot in Singapore so to come here, where it's cold, rainy and windy, is difficult to adapt. But the experience has been good."
The boys’ attitude has been good. They’ve done well and worked hard, and followed what they’ve been instructed to do. As for Marc, the boys here are bigger than him but, in terms of speed, he’s one of the fastest.
— Ex-Singapore international and F-17 Academy coach Steven Tan, on his son Marc (with West Ham’s assistant academy director Paul Heffer)