Quak joins Thai top-tier side Navy
Singapore international winger Gabriel Quak inked a one-season deal with the Thai Navy last Friday in Chonburi, ahead of this Sunday's Thai League 1 (T1) kick-off.
While there are currently more than 10 national players plying their trade abroad, the 27-year-old is the only Chinese among them.
He is also believed to be the first Singaporean Chinese outfield national player to earn a professional overseas contract - goalkeepers Edmund Wee and David Lee signed for Hong Kong's South China and Indonesia's Niac Mitra respectively in the 1980s.
"I'm happy and excited about this move. There was interest from four T1 teams in September and October last year, but there was no concrete offer so I had given up on playing abroad this season," said Quak, who had moved from Geylang International to Warriors FC, who were compensated for the late switch, in the off-season.
Quak's senior career has yielded 10 goals in 80 games for the LionsXII and a Malaysian Super League title in 2013. Over the last two seasons, Quak scored six goals in 47 appearances for Geylang.
Navy finished 13th out of 18 teams last season with 42 goals - more than only bottom side Jumpasri United's 31. They are banking on Quak to give them an attacking boost in their quest to finish in the top half this term.
He added: "I'm in my prime and I'm not going to Navy to make up the numbers. I want to contribute pace, assists and goals.
"I think I'm at the right age for the move and I'm more mature."
Things have also gone swimmingly for him off the pitch. In 2016, he married Melissa Teo and the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Gladys.
Last Thursday, he teamed up with national skipper Shahril Ishak and three other partners for the soft launch of Ole Thai Steamboat at the Mukmin Restaurant in Bedok North, a day before he completed the Navy deal.
On the pitch, Quak, who has 21 caps and two international goals, hopes to excel in his Thai stint to inspire more Chinese footballers here to take the sport seriously.
He is also aiming for a first national call-up since last June for November's Suzuki Cup.
"I have played well enough to earn a move to a top-division Thai team, and I want to continue doing well with Navy," he said.
"The national team have not had good results, but we have a good opportunity to redeem ourselves and do well at the Suzuki Cup." - DAVID LEE