Irfan Fandi turns down Sporting Braga

After all the hoo-ha about Ben Davis and his application to defer NS after signing a professional contract with EPL club Fulham, one of Singapore’s young footballing prospects that did it the right way by serving NS first, is in the news but for the wrong reasons.

Irfan Fandi has rejected the offer of a professional contract from Portuguese top tier club Sporting Braga. The 21-year-old son of Singapore’s football hero Fandi Ahmad was offered a two-year contract that included a 15 million euro penalty for breaking contract and an option for a two-year extension.

Irfan said that the length of the contract, plus the penalty for breaking it, was key in him deciding to reject the offer. He said, “Who knows in the two years I could get homesick or something could happen to me and we’re stuck with the 15 million fine.”

Straits Times report even highlighted tycoon Peter Lim’s disappointment at Irfan’s decision. The billionaire who owns Spanish La Liga club Valencia, introduced Fandi and his sons to top football agent Jorge Mendes when the Portuguese was in Singapore on holiday in June. A spokesman from Lim’s office said that “we find that our footballers are mentally not ready for the challenge.”

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Yah no shit. This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Irfan to shine in a tough European league and he passed on it because of loneliness! I really can’t wrap my head around it. I mean it was a two-year contract, not like a five-year contract. So Irfan wanted a one-year contract? Or a six-month contract? Usually if a footballer is offered a longer contract, it means that the club has more belief in your abilities, which is a good thing right? That’s why Irfan’s rejection of the contract offer is so hard to comprehend.

Sometimes, it boils down to desire and how much you want to succeed. Maybe if you grew up hungry among drug dealers in a favela in Brazil, one might have more desire than what Irfan has shown. Has our infamous strawberry generation struck again? I mean living and playing football in a foreign country is undoubtedly tough. No one disputes that, especially having to be away from your family, or in Irfan’s case his super chio girlfriend. And in Irfan’s tweet below, it seems like he thinks the media is taking things out of context somehow.

Whatever it is, all football fans hoped that Irfan would have kept the Singapore flag flying high in Portugal. Like maybe how his father Fandi flew the flag in Holland playing for FC Gronigen in 1983-85. And you know what? Fandi himself signed a two-year contract with FC Gronigen.