Match Of The Week

Young Eagle wants to soar even higher

Geylang International striker Vasileios Zikos Chua was overcome with emotion when he scored against the Young Lions last Sunday, becoming the third-youngest scorer in 24 years of the S-League/ Singapore Premier League.
Geylang International striker Vasileios Zikos Chua was overcome with emotion when he scored against the Young Lions last Sunday, becoming the third-youngest scorer in 24 years of the S-League/ Singapore Premier League.PHOTO: SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Geylang's Vasileios, 17, eyes pro ranks after becoming the 3rd-youngest scorer in league

SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Hougang United v Geylang

Jalan Besar Stadium, 5.30pm

He had planned to play it cool after scoring for the first time in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) last weekend, but the teenager inside striker Vasileios Zikos Chua could not contain himself.

He wheeled away from goal at full speed, arms outstretched, and screamed at the top of his lungs, in an expression of joy not dissimilar to the Italian Marco Tardelli's iconic 1982 World Cup celebration.

Vasileios, who turned 17 the day after scoring in Geylang International's 1-0 win over Young Lions, became the third-youngest scorer in Singapore's 24-year-old professional football league, and its youngest match-winner.

Hariss Harun, at 16 years and 174 days, tops the list with his 2007 strike for the Young Lions against Singapore Armed Forces FC, followed by Fareez Farhan, who scored in 2011 also for the Young Lions against Warriors FC when he was 16 years and 331 days.

"I had a few things in mind (for the celebration), and I'll usually just jump and pump my fist in the air. But, after I scored, I just lost control of the situation," Vasileios sheepishly told The Straits Times ahead of today's Hougang United game.

Born to a Singaporean father and a Greek mother, he grew up in Kastoria in northern Greece and moved to Singapore when he was 10.

His given name means king in Greek but is a mouthful for Singaporean tongues, so his teammates and coaches call him Bill, a shorter, direct translation.

The first-year Nanyang Junior College student admits he is still learning to juggle his professional football ambitions with his studies but adds that milestones, like his maiden strike, give him the motivation to keep going in both.

"It was an extremely special moment, and it meant a lot to me," he said. "Growing up and wanting to be a professional, it's a huge landmark to get your first goal.

"It was a dream come true.

"All I want to do now is give 100 per cent and make sure I'm not content with what I have now; I have to keep improving and working hard."

Geylang handler Noor Ali, who coached him at Tanjong Katong Secondary School for four years, said: "Bill is a smart boy. As a coach, I'm proud to see a young player who can balance his studies and football, because I think that comes only with the right attitude. But he has just turned 17 and, football-wise, he still has a long way to go."

He is hoping his team can continue their good form with a third win on the trot but noted that Hougang, who are third in the table and one spot above Geylang on goal difference, are no pushovers.

It is still early days, but both teams have come a long way from being cellar dwellers last year, and a win would propel either side into second spot for at least 24 hours.

Said Noor Ali: "We'll go out and play our normal game, but we also know Hougang have good quality and depth in their squad, and we have to keep an eye on two or three players."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'Young Eagle wants to soar even higher'. Print Edition | Subscribe