Football: A timeline of the Ben Davis saga

Footballer Ben Davis was the first Singaporean to sign professional terms with an English Premier League team. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) confirmed on Monday (Feb 18) that footballer Ben Davis has defaulted on his national service commitments.

It is understood that the 18-year-old, who is on professional terms with English Premier League club Fulham, was required to enlist on Feb 14.

Davis, born to a Thai mother and English father, moved to Singapore with his family at age five and became a citizen four years later.

Here's a look at his progress in football over the years.

January 2013: Davis joins the Singapore Sports School.

Before that, he had been a part of the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Junior Centre of Excellence team since he was eight. He also honed his skills at the JSSL soccer school run by his father, Harvey Davis.

September 2015: Features for the national Under-16 team in the AFC Under-16 qualifiers. Singapore fail to qualify for the finals after finishing third in a group comprising North Korea, Thailand and Cambodia.

November 2015: Nominated for The New Paper Dollah Kassim award which recognises Singapore's football talents aged 18 and below who have displayed football excellence and strong character.

He was described by then-U-15 coach V Selveraj as an "intelligent young footballer... (who) holds the ball up well and passes well under pressure, which many boys his age cannot."

November 2016: Leaves Singapore to move to London to study at the Harrow High School, a sports college, in hopes of earning a scholarship with Fulham.

July 2017: Signs a two-year scholarship with Fulham, becoming the first Singaporean to sign for an English club since Daniel Bennett played for third-tier team Wrexham in 2003.

November 2017: Returns to Singapore and features for the national Under-19 team in the AFC Under-19 qualifiers. Singapore fail to qualify for the finals after finishing bottom in a group that includes Japan, Thailand and Mongolia.

July 2018: Signs professional terms with Fulham.

The length of the contract and his wages were not revealed, but academy players who sign professional contracts in England receive, on average, between £300 (S$540) and £1,500 a week, depending on the club's valuation of their potential.

A day after his signing was announced, Mindef revealed that his application for long-term NS deferment had been rejected.

August 2018: In Parliament, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen gave three reasons why Mindef rejected Davis' application.

The first was that he was playing as an English national - as listed on Fulham's website.

The second was that his father had "consistently refused to indicate" when his son would return to do NS, if deferred. The senior Davis said this was because there are "a lot of variables all dependent on his development and progression".

Thirdly, Mindef said the senior Davis indicated that Ben would still sign the contract with Fulham if deferment was not granted - as he did - and would consider the option for his son to renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career.

February 2019: Mindef confirms Davis has defaulted on his national service commitments, after failing to report for NS as required. It added that he is also staying overseas without a valid Exit Permit. As a result, he is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.

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