Royston scores and stars as MJC win title again
Royston shines as MJC win sixth A Div football title in seven years
He is no longer the pint-sized player he once was.
But there's no denying Royston Tan still has plenty of talent in his boots.
The 18-year-old left winger was the star of the show as Meridian Junior College beat Victoria Junior College 1-0 in the National Schools' A Division final at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday evening.
Royston introduced himself on the local football scene as part of Nazri Nasir's National Football Academy Under-15 team that played in the Lion City Cup against the likes of Vasco da Gama and PSV Eindhoven in 2012 and 2013.
Despite standing at just 1.55 metres then, he caught the eye with his determination and close control, and was even nominated for the The New Paper-Dollah Kassim Award in 2012.
Three years on and 15cm taller, he scored the winning goal to hand MJC their sixth A Division title in seven years, and also picked up the tournament's Top Scorer award after the match.
Royston, who plays as an attacking midfielder for the NFA Under-18 team, plundered 19 goals in just 10 matches for MJC this year.
MJC's Brazilian coach, former S.League player Fabio da Silva, said: "Over the last two years, Royston and Justin (Hui) have been our key players.
"I first saw Royston play in the Lion City Cup and, even now when I go back to Brazil and visit my friends in Vasco da Gama, they still ask me about 'the talented Singapore player'.
"He's a fantastic player and I believe he can play for the national team in the future."
Royston said: "I'm pretty much the same person I was then.
"Football-wise, I've changed my style a bit, to be a bit more direct."
Indeed, Royston's directness was what set him apart from the other players on the pitch.
He glided past three VJC players on at least three occasions during the game, and showed good strength - something missing from his game previously - to hold defenders off or to evade tough tackles.
He also linked up well with Justin, another NFA U-18 player, to terrorise the VJC defenders.
The only goal of the game came via a set-piece in the sixth minute, when Justin played Royston through to finish with aplomb.
MJC had to endure a couple of hairy moments in the second half when VJC hit the bar twice through Muhammad Sollehin and then Ahmad Taufiq, but they held on for the win.
Said da Silva: "We are blessed to be the champions again.
"The A Division is getting better and better, and you can see today VJC played a very good game.
"We worked on this set-piece the whole week and, today, we managed to score from it."
In the third-placing match before the final, Anglo-Chinese Junior College beat Raffles Institution 1-0 to claim the second runners-up medal.