Ben Davis: Thailand is best for me, it has a bright future and a chance to succeed

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Ben Davis of Fulham U21 attempts to move away from Hiram Boateng of Milton Keynes Dons during the Trophy match between Milton Keynes Dons and Fulham U21 at Stadium mk on October 01, 2019 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Ben Davis (red jersey) in a recent match for the Fulham Under-21 side against Milton Keynes Dons. (PHOTO: Pete Norton/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Former Singapore Under-19 national footballer Ben Davis has broken his silence on his decision to represent Thailand, after defaulting on his national service obligations.

In an interview with Thai television channel True4U that was posted on the channel’s Facebook page on Monday (7 October), the 18-year-old said, “I spoke to my family about my citizenship – I have the options of Singapore, Thailand, Wales and England. Now, I have decided to choose Thailand.

"I think this is the best choice for me. Thai football has a bright future and a chance to succeed. My parents also support my decision to the fullest. At first, my dad wanted me to play for Singapore, but for some reason, it did not happen. My mother is also very pleased that I have been given this opportunity.”

Born in Phuket to Thai mum, English dad

Davis was born in Phuket to a Thai mother and English father, and moved to Singapore at age five. He became a citizen four years later, and subsequently represented Singapore at the U-16 and U-19 levels.

He also received call-ups to the Singapore senior side in March 2018, but did not play in either of two friendlies against the Maldives and Chinese Taipei.

He subsequently signed a two-year contract with English professional side Fulham 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 (Mindef) rejected Davis’ request to defer his NS enlistment date, as he “does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”. The incident sparked lively debate in Singapore on issues such as maximising talent and balancing the need for national security.

Defaulted NS in February

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”.

Davis subsequently made his senior-team debut with Fulham in August, coming on as an 89th-minute substitute in their 0-1 League Cup defeat by Southampton.

“The Thai Football Association has given me a chance and I will do my best to pay back,” he said in the True4U interview.

Related stories:

Ben Davis, who defaulted NS to play for Fulham, is called up to Thailand squad for SEA Games

Singapore footballer Ben Davis makes senior debut for Fulham in League Cup defeat

Footballer Ben Davis now a national service defaulter: Mindef

Ben Davis has 'no commitment' to serve Singapore or national interests: Ng Eng Hen

Fulham signee Ben Davis may not play for Singapore if NS deferment appeal fails, says father

Fulham signee Benjamin Davis’ national service deferment not granted by MINDEF: reports

Singaporean teen Ben Davis signs professional contract with Fulham