SINGAPORE — Singapore footballer Ben Davis made his senior debut for English Championship club Fulham FC in their 0-1 League Cup defeat by Southampton on Tuesday (27 August).
The 18-year-old midfielder came on as an 89th-minute substitute, replacing American Luca de la Torre.
However, he could do little to prevent his side – who were relegated from the English Premier League last season – from losing the tie to a 57th-minute goal by Southampton’s Michael Obafemi.
Davis, a former Singapore Sports School student, had joined Fulham in July 2017 on a two-year scholarship deal, and subsequently signed a two-year contract in July 2018.
As Fulham were in the English Premier League last year, he thus became the first Singaporean footballer to sign for a top-tier English club.
However, the Ministry of Defence rejected Davis’ request to defer his National Service (NS) enlistment date, as he “does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”.
His appeal against the decision was also subsequently rejected, as his father Harvey told Yahoo News Singapore then that his son might switch nationalities if his appeal was not granted.
At a Parliamentary sitting in August 2018, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told the House that there are no “valid grounds” to approve Davis’ deferment request as there was “no commitment to serve Singapore or our national interests”.
In February this year, Davis failed to report for NS as required, and was declared an NS defaulter. Mindef said in a statement that he is “liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years”.