Singapore youth footballer Ben Davis settling well at Fulham FC's academy

Fulham academy scholar and ex-Singapore Sports School student Ben Davis was in town to finish his pre-enlistment National Service medical check-up yesterday. The 16-year-old midfielder has his sights set on breaking into the first team of English Cha
Fulham academy scholar and ex-Singapore Sports School student Ben Davis was in town to finish his pre-enlistment National Service medical check-up yesterday. The 16-year-old midfielder has his sights set on breaking into the first team of English Championship side Fulham.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

It has barely been a month into his Fulham stint but national youth footballer Ben Davis has quickly found his feet and scoring touch with two goals notched up in pre-season.

The 16-year-old midfielder, a former Singapore Sports School (SSP) student, admitted that it was difficult in the beginning as he came to grips with the nature of the English game.

He said: "They (English players) know how to use their physicality well to win the ball and not just (through) fouling."

The 1.72m, 60kg teenager may lack the physical strength now, but he showed his goal-scoring ability with a brace against Portuguese club Boavista Under-19s in a 4-1 pre-season friendly win in Portugal last month.

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He earned a two-year academy scholarship with the English Championship side after impressing in trials and pointed to the example of Ryan Sessegnon, another Fulham scholarship recipient.

The 17-year-old England U-19 left-back signed his first professional Fulham contract in June.

Ben, who stays with a foster family in London about five minutes away from Fulham's training ground, said: "I hope to earn a professional contract and eventually play for the first team in the Championship or the Premier League Under-23 teams."

He will feature for Fulham's U-18 team in the upcoming Premier League U-18 season where they will compete against academy sides from top clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Ben was born in Thailand, moved to Singapore with his family when he was five and gained citizenship in 2009. He studied at the SSP from 2013-2015 before moving to Harrow High School in London last year.

He was in Singapore yesterday on a one-day trip to complete his pre-enlistment National Service medical check-up, required for an application for deferment.

Having been recalled to the National Football Academy (NFA) U-18 team for the Asian Football Confederation U-18 Championship qualifiers in October, Ben was thrilled to be donning national colours after a two-year absence.

He last played for the NFA U-16 team at the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers in 2015.

He said: "I want to play for Singapore because I've lived here almost all my life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Ben settling in well at Fulham's academy'. Print Edition | Subscribe