SINGAPORE - Irfan Fandi, eldest son of former Singapore captain Fandi Ahmad, is in the national Under-23 squad that will play their Japanese counterparts in a friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium this Saturday.
The 17-year-old is fighting to earn a place in the SEA Games squad and continue his journey to emulate his famous father, who remains one of the best footballers the country has ever produced. He is one of five siblings who have all excelled in sport.
Here are five things to know about the young striker.
Name: Irfan Fandi
Born: Aug 13, 1997
Club: Universidad Catolica (Chile)
Position: Striker/attacking midfielder
1. Singapore football star Fandi Ahmad and South Africa-born model Wendy Jacobs married in 1996 and their first child, Irfan, was born a year later.
His birth made headlines because a parenting magazine paid a five-figure sum to have exclusive publicity rights to the newborn.
Hours after he was born, dad was on the pitch again, playing for S-League club Singapore Armed Forces FC (now Warriors FC). Fandi scored the winner in a 3-2 win over Balestier Central (now Balestier Khalsa) and promptly dedicated the goal to his newborn son.
2. Following Irfan are four more siblings - brothers Ikhsan, Ilhan and Iryan, and sister Iman.
Ikhsan, 15, is a striker noted for his ability to dribble at defenders and beat them with individual skill.
Ilhan, 12, is named after former Turkey international striker Ilhan Mansiz. In 2013, he scored all four goals for Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) in the National Primary Schools Football Championship final, helping his team beat Henry Park 4-3.
Iryan, born on National Day in 2006, is an attacking midfielder who idolises Brazil star Neymar.
Iman's favourite sport is tennis and she plays football as a defender. But her former primary school (CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity) offered neither and she took up sprinting instead. In 2012, she won the 100m final in the National Inter-Primary School Track and Field Championships in 13.68sec. The 14-year-old is now a Singapore Sports School student.
3. Irfan is currently a trainee at top Chilean club Universidad Catolica alongside brother Ikhsan. Both are trying to earn professional contracts there and have been based in South America since 2013.
Last August, Malaysian bank CIMB announced a one-year, six-figure sponsorship deal with the brothers. The sponsorship will see CIMB take care of their footballing and academic needs in Chile.
4. The public first caught a glimpse of Irfan's talent at the 2013 Lion City Cup at Jalan Besar Stadium. Despite the pressure on him because of his famous father, Irfan did not disappoint as he scored against the Under-15s of Arsenal and German club Eintracht Frankfurt.
Apart from his finishing, the teenager impressed with his physical strength, aerial power and sound technique.
Just like his father, Irfan wears the No. 17 jersey. Fandi picked it as his lucky number as he believes that one and seven adds up to eight, which means prosperity in Chinese.
5. Still only 17, the budding footballer already stands at 1.86m tall. Irfan pays particular attention to bulking up as he needs more physical strength if he is to succeed in South America and as a national player.
A photo posted by Irfan Fandi Ahmad (@irfanfandi17) onJun 3, 2014 at 6:49pm PDT
Those hours in the gym have paid off and Irfan is not shy to show off his chiselled biceps and washboard abs on the Internet. He is a prolific user of social media and has 32,000 followers on Instagram and another 6,500 on Twitter, which he updates regularly with shirtless selfies of himself.