Football: Anders Aplin follows familiar route to national team

Anders Aplin (left), whose cousin is former national defender Tan Kim Leng (right). Unlike Tan, Aplin is a late bloomer.
Anders Aplin (left), whose cousin is former national defender Tan Kim Leng (right). Unlike Tan, Aplin is a late bloomer.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Sundram impressed by Geylang defender, a cousin of ex-international Tan Kim Leng

The gritty determination on the pitch, that rugged jawline and even the neatly combed hair.

If Anders Aplin does have a sense deja vu about him, it is because he is the cousin of former national footballer Tan Kim Leng.

And Aplin is close to following the path trodden by his cousin, after V. Sundram Moorthy gave the Geylang International defender a first national call-up last week.

Although the 26-year-old will not travel with the Lions for the friendly against Qatar on Thursday and the Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan on Oct 10, the national coach emphasises that the player is part of his plans.

Sundram said: "Anders is definitely a player for the future.

"He is physically very strong, he's very fit. Whether it's in training or during games, he has this attitude to keep going until the end.

"I called him up to have a closer look at him on a daily basis and I am quite impressed.

SHOWING PROMISE

Anders is definitely a player for the future.He is physically very strong, he's very fit. Whether it's in training or during games, he has this attitude to keep going until the end.

V. SUNDRAM MOORTHY, national coach, on why he called up Anders Aplin.

"He is very versatile as he can play as centre-back and as right and left-back and I do see him as a good defensive midfielder."

Having tasted the international set-up, Aplin is hungry for more.

"It's quite an experience," he said. "The whole environment is different from club football.

"National players have to wear GPS chips and everything is tracked.

"It's very professional and I am looking forward to more of it.

"I don't expect to walk into the team but, ultimately, my goal is to play for the national team."

But while his cousin Tan, capped 30 times by Singapore, was a product of the Warriors FC youth system before earning international honours, Aplin is a late bloomer.

He was part of the Singapore Sports School's inaugural cohort of footballers, playing alongside future Lions such as Safuwan Baharudin and Madhu Mohana.

But he focused on his education, earning a degree in business from Nanyang Technological University two years ago.

After completing national service as a commando, he had spells playing in the amateur National Football League, first with the Singapore Cricket Club and later, the Singapore Recreation Club (SRC).

It was whilst the 1.8m player was in SRC colours that he was spotted by Geylang and he plunged into the unstable world of S-League football.

Aplin said: "I could have stayed in the comfort zone, probably somewhere corporate, but football has always been there in my life.

"Professional football in Singapore can be uncertain but at least I have my degree to fall back on.

"I want to play as long as I can, go as far as I can."

And if he ever needs advice of any kind, his cousin, who is now a property agent after a successful playing career with Warriors and Tampines Rovers, is only a phone call away.

Besides urging Aplin to turn up at least 30 minutes before Lions training, Tan, 40, said: "Anders can be a very good midfielder.

"He needs to improve his touches and hold the ball more to dictate the game.

"I'm also happy that he has a degree to fall back on. But, at the moment, I really want to see him wear the national team jersey."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 01, 2017, with the headline 'Aplin follows familiar route'. Print Edition | Subscribe