MICHEL Sablon, the man credited for Belgium's rise in football, has been unveiled as the new technical director of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
The 67-year-old, who has previously helmed Belgium's Olympic squad and was also the assistant coach of its national team which reached the 1986 World Cup semi-finals, has signed a two-year contract to replace Serb Slobodan Pavkovic, who left the post in January.
As the national technical director at the Royal Belgian Football Federation, Sablon introduced a 10-year masterplan which would unearth a golden generation of footballers like Chelsea star Eden Hazard, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.
FAS President Zainudin Nordin said: "Michel is one of the most renowned and successful technical directors in the world today, and his vision and hard work in revamping the youth development system in Belgium have been acknowledged as a key factor in the rise and success of Belgian football in recent years.
"Michel brings with him great wealth of international experience, ability and track record in mentoring and grooming youth players and coaches, and his experience at the World Cup and other high-profile competitions will benefit our various teams preparing for their international assignments.
Sablon said: "It was a rigorous recruitment process and I deeply appreciate that the FAS officials were sincere and forthright throughout the process. In addition to their openness in sharing with me the key challenges and constraints, I am also impressed by their passion and determination in enhancing the quality of Singapore football. I had received a few good offers although I should add that the professionalism and sincerity of the Federation convinced me to accept this challenging position.
"Youth development is a long-term project and takes time to yield results. I will work closely with my partners and colleagues to further strengthen the current structure and system, which include key programmes such as the National Football Academy, and Junior Centres of Excellence which was launched just a few years ago. Going forward, I am confident that the quality of players who have been developed through our full youth development system will be greatly enhanced by the time they graduate from the NFA."