Sam Somerville: It’d be great if I could represent Malaysia alongside Junior Eldstal

English-born goalkeeper Samuel Somerville speaks to FourFourTwo Malaysia/Singapore about his hope of playing in Malaysia as well as representing the country in the future...

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Samuel Somerville and I am 20 years old. I am currently playing as a goalkeeper at Slough Town in the Southern Football League Premier Division in England and have clocked over 200 non-league senior appearances. I previously played for Godalming Town and Farnborough.

We understand that you want to play in Malaysia. What is the main reason?

I just want to be given the opportunity to get out there and show my abilities. The main reason I have been held back in England as a goalkeeper is due to my height. I’m 5’10” but professional clubs here have a template where you have to be 6’ or more. Plus, I am actually a one-quarter Malaysian.

Interesting. What’s your claim to a Malaysian passport?

My link to Malaysia is through my grandmother, who was from Kulim, Kedah. At the age of 17, my grandmother met my English grandfather, who was working in the Royal Air Force in Butterworth.  Shortly after they got married, she gave up her Malaysian citizenship to pursue a life with my granddad in England.

Have you been to the country before?

I have visited Malaysia a few times to see my grandmother’s family, who live in Penang, but the last time I visited was when I was 13 years old. I used to take a couple of months off of school and come over during the New Year celebrations.

When did you realise you want to play in Malaysia?

The first thought about playing football in Malaysia popped up after a gym session with Junior Eldstal, a close friend of mine whom I used to train and play with at Farnborough. He mentioned how he was going out there to coach with a view on playing as well. That's when it popped into my head about coming over and playing professionally.

Tell us a bit more about your friendship with Junior.

Well, Junior and I became close friends when I was 15 years old. I just broke into the Under-18 team and he was already a regular starter. Since then we've always stayed close and caught up over Nando’s when we can. Obviously, it is a bit difficult now with him being in Malaysia.

Junior Eldstal during his playing days with Farnborough

Why do you think Junior has been a success in Malaysia?

I am over the moon for him. He worked really hard in England to achieve his goals before he left to go to Malaysia. He is tall and physical – like most in England – which add something different to any team in Malaysia.

Should you be able to get the much desired Malaysian passport, do you think you can compete with the local goalkeepers?

Yes, of course, there will be no point in going over if I do not think so. The only thing that has held me back in the English game is my height, so going to Malaysia is a way to showcase my ability.

How's the progress of getting the passport so far?

To be honest, it has been one big hurdle. I have spoken with the Malaysian embassy and it seems like there's nothing they can do [because I am not a half-Malaysian like Junior is]. It's upsetting because I'd love to follow the same path that he has. I have been in love with the country since I was a kid because all the people are so nice and friendly. The weather’s not bad either. Plus, there’s nothing more I’d like than to play for a club in one of Asia’s top leagues and then hopefully represent the country alongside Junior. So hopefully the Malaysian embassy can relook into this and get me to Malaysia.

(Pictures: Samuel Somerville)