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.