Singapore Premier League • July 5, 2018
Geylang teen Zikos Chua, 16, becomes youngest ever debutant in Singapore Premier League
The attacker came on as a late substitute in a 3-1 win over Young Lions to make history
Vasileios Zikos Chua of Geylang International FC was 16 years, two months and 19 days when he made his professional debut. (Photo courtesy of Geylang)
SINGAPORE, 5 JULY 2018 – History was made last night in local football when a 16-year-old became the youngest ever player to take to the pitch in Singapore’s top flight.
Vasileios Zikos Chua, aged 16 years, two months and 19 days, came on in the 87th minute of Geylang International FC’s 3-1 win over Young Lions at Jalan Besar Stadium for his professional debut to set a new milestone in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL).
The attacker’s appearance eclipsed the previous record set by Hariss Harun, who was 16 years, three months and 18 days when he made his debut for Young Lions in a 3-2 win against Liaoning Guangyuan on 9 March, 2007 in their first game of the then-S.League season. (UPDATE: The previous youngest player was Ariff Farhan Isa, who came on for Harimau Muda ‘A’ in a 2-0 win over Balestier Khalsa as a 93rd-minute substitute on 7 October 2012 at 16 years and 86 days, not Hariss Harun. We apologise for the error.)
The 1.84m Zikos, who had trained with the Geylang first-team for the past two months, was included in the match-day squad for the first time and replaced goalscorer Fairoz Hasan in their final substitution of the night.
“I didn’t expect to come on, but I definitely kept a positive mind about it,” he told the SPL website after the game. “I was prepared and made sure I was warmed up in case I was called to go in. I was really excited to get on and just do my best for the team!
“We were just trying to keep possession (at 3-1) so I don’t think it was that intense but from the start of the game, I could see the intensity was a lot different from the age groups I’ve played, both locally and internationally.”
On his landmark appearance, Zikos added: “I didnt know (about) that (but) it’s a great feeling. I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to play, especially at such a young age; (most) players my age would love to have this opportunity.”
Zikos in action during his NFA days.
Born to a Singaporean father and Greek mother, Zikos grew up in Kastoria, northwestern Greece and moved to Singapore when he was 10.
The youngster was signed by former Geylang Head Coach Noor Ali for the club’s Under-19 side last year and has made eight appearances (four starts, four substitute) in the Centre of Excellence U19 league this season. Nicknamed “Bill”, he has scored five times for the team in his first year at Geylang, who sit seventh in the eight-team league after 13 games.
“I thought it was a great opportunity because it’s (Bedok Stadium) is near my school and it’s very convenient for me, so I thought I’d try it out,” said the Tanjong Katong Secondary School student, who is taking his ‘O’ Levels later this year.
Prior to that, Zikos had been playing for the National Football Academy (NFA, now FAS Football Academy or FFA) age-groups for three years.
He has also represented Singapore at various levels, the most recent being the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 qualifiers last September. Zikos cited scoring for the U14s against Brunei in the AFC U14 Regional Festival of Football tournament in July 2016 as one of the best moments of his career, along with his debut last night.
Zikos, who was nominated for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award last year, has set his sights high.
“I want to play internationally (in an overseas league) and hopefully play for the national team,” he said. “I don’t have a timeline (for doing that but) I know I want to improve every day and give the best I have to make the next step in my career.”
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