Faridzuan goes Dutch with NEC
Fandi Ahmad is the only Singaporean footballer to have plied his trade in Holland.
The 52-year-old, now coach of Malaysian Super League side LionsXII, played in the Dutch Eredivisie for FC Groningen from 1983 to 1985.
Now, Faridzuan Fuad, a product of the National Football Academy, has set his sights on emulating the achievement of the former national captain.
The 18-year-old, who starred for the Under-16 side which reached the final of the Lion City Cup in 2012, is currently on a two-month trial with Dutch second division club NEC Nijmegen.
He arrived in Nijmegen on Jan 27 and has been training with the reserve team.
He is set to play his first friendly with the side next week.
"I've been doing good here, even though the temperatures range from 0 to 5 deg C," Faridzuan, who also scored the winning goal for the Under-15s in a 4-3 win over Newcastle in a 2011 Lion City Cup group game, told The New Paper in a phone interview.
"It was hard at first, because the players here, their first touch is pure class. But, physically, it's not a problem because I try to use my speed to beat my opponents.
"I scored a few goals in training and the coach (John Percifal) told me that he likes how I'm performing. It's just that I have to be smarter in my decision-making."
Faridzuan's trial was arranged by Mohd Indra Taib, who has been his coach since he was eight years old.
Indra is also the father of Ahmad Hakimputra, the former NFA Under-14 striker who played professional football with Kaposvari Rakoczi in Hungary in 2012 and 2013.
Hakimputra also spent a season (2013-14) in Holland with fourth division club side SV Huizen before moving to Indonesia a few months ago.
Indra, who runs a company called InSports Consultant, said he plans to open up more opportunities for young local footballers to play overseas.
"I knew Faridzuan would impress the coaches in Holland. He's a very creative, two-footed player and can play anywhere", said Indra, who knew one of the NEC coaches when he was coaching in Indonesia.
"Actually, I got him a stint with the senior team. But the club gave him a one-day trial in his very first training session under conditions of -4 deg C, which wasn't fair.
"It wasn't easy for him but, after that, he became more relaxed with the reserve team and that's when the coaches noticed how good he was."
Faridzuan impressed NEC enough to earn a further two-month extension to his trial, with a possibility of a professional contract being offered at the end of the term.
But the winger, who signed with Tampines Rovers' Prime League side last month, said he plans to return to Singapore after the initial two months are up.
Said Faridzuan: "Of course, I'd love to play professionally here in Holland.
"But, at the moment, if the club offer me a contract, I'm not sure I would accept it because of my National Service (NS). I don't know when my enlistment will be.
"Also, I have already signed for Tampines and I plan to apply for the Higher Nitec course (in ITE) which starts in April.
"This trial was meant to be good exposure for me and, so far, it has been very useful. I've even picked up a bit of Dutch.
"I hope to leave a good impression with the club, so that once my NS is over, they would invite me back."
Faridzuan added that he plans to take his football career one step at a time.
First, he hopes to make the Courts Young Lions team soon and play in the 2017 South-east Asia Games.
His ultimate goal, though, is to become the second Singaporean footballer after Fandi to play in Holland.
"I told some of the coaches here that I come from the same place as Fandi, and they all knew who I was talking about - and I'm not even in Groningen!" Faridzuan quipped.