SINGAPORE — To most fans of this generation, the FA Cup is a distant second behind the English Premier League (EPL) in terms of prestige among the football competitions in the country.
But try telling that to the England-born footballers. Most of them still believe that winning the FA Cup - the world's oldest domestic knockout competition - is as memorable as becoming EPL champions, if not more.
Just ask Joe Cole. The former England international counts winning the FA Cup twice with Chelsea in 2007 and 2010 as undoubtedly among the highlights of his illustrious career.
Speaking via virtual link-up during the Singapore leg of the FA Cup's Asia-Pacific Trophy Tour on Thursday (26 January), the 41-year-old said of his double Cup triumph, "It means the world. It's hard for people to understand now, but the FA Cup was the premier competition for me when I was growing up - more so than the Champions League or the Premier League.
"Every Cup game was special, and the Cup final day in England is a huge carnival for football."
Having grown up in London near Wembley Stadium, where the FA Cup final is being played annually, Cole had managed to snare tickets for two finals as a Chelsea-supporting youngster.
"The first one was bad, we lost 0-4 to Manchester United in 1995, and I remember I was in tears after that," said the former Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool star.
"The second was when Chelsea defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 in 1997, and that was a really special and unforgettable moment for me, especially since I was just starting my football career."
Fans pose beside famous trophy
While the FA Cup undoubtedly holds a special place for fans in England, its allure among the global football fans has been overtaken by the likes of the EPL and the UEFA Champions League, as these competitions have a stronger media presence with more matches played over a season.
Nonetheless, it is still a well-known and well-liked tournament, as the Cup made its way through the Asia-Pacific Trophy Tour, which started in Sydney on Monday. The Cup made its way to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, before being unveiled in Singapore in front of about 50 gleeful fans and guests at Bar Football in Kallang Wave Mall on Thursday.
The fans got to pose beside the Cup, as well as interact with Cole and other Singapore national footballers such as Hassan Sunny and Izwan Mahbud, in a fun night of football entertainment.
"This tour is a great opportunity for us to connect with football fans in Singapore, and we hope to continue making this sport more accessible to everyone through events like these," said Navin Singh, commercial director of The Football Association.
The Cup will complete is Asia-Pacific tour in Seoul this weekend, amid the fourth-round matches for this year's competition.
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