SINGAPORE - Ben Davis made his first-team debut for English second-tier club Fulham on Tuesday (Aug 27). The Singaporean player came on in the 89th minute of the Championship club's 1-0 loss to Premier League side Southampton in a second-round League Cup clash.
He replaced Luca de la Torre.
The club's website (fulhamfc.com) posted remarks from manager Scott Parker in his post-match press conference, in which he said he was pleased with how some of the club's academy players, like Davis, integrated into the first team.
He said: "The most pleasing thing for me was that the young players got a chance to be involved and around it.
"This football club's known to give young players an opportunity and it's certainly something I believe in.
"I want every young player at this football club to understand that if they do things the right way, work hard, they'll get an opportunity.
"When you are young, it's about opportunity, so it was a big plus to see the young boys on tonight, even if it was for two or three minutes, it's still a massive experience for them.
"Overall, I'm really pleased with how the night's gone; the four debuts, the six young Academy lads who were involved and the senior players who have had a very good pre-season have come in and got some game time."
In an Instagram post which also showcased his jersey No. 38, Davis said: "Glad to make my professional debut tonight despite the unlucky result."
In February, Singapore's Ministry of Defence revealed that Davis had defaulted on his national service commitments. It also noted that he is staying overseas without a valid exit permit.
"Mr Davis has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, and is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years," it added.
The Phuket-born teenager had signed professional terms with Fulham - who were in the Premier League last season - in July last year, the first Singaporean footballer to do so with a top-tier English club.
A former student at the Singapore Sports School, he left the Republic in 2015 to move to London to join Fulham's academy, where he is registered as an English national.
After he signed pro terms last year, Mindef confirmed that his application for NS deferment had been rejected, as he did not "meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS".
The reasons for the decision were explained by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament in August last year.
Dr Ng said Davis’ father Harvey had “consistently refused to indicate” when his son would return to serve NS, if it is deferred, and noted the deferment application was to further Davis’ professional career “first and to the longest extent possible. Singapore and her interests, including his son’s NS obligations, are secondary considerations, if at all.”