Dinner with... Fabian Kwok
Fabian Kwok, 25, is the S-League's man-of-the-moment. The video of his incredible volley from the halfway line against Albirex Niigata (Singapore) went viral within a day and on to websites around the world.
The Geylang International midfielder's idea of a good dinner has a distinctly local flavour; his favorite dish is 'hokkien mee' from Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles Stall at Chomp Chomp Food Centre. He tells me that in spite of the strict diet footballers have to follow, he has to get his fix at least once a month. The noodles are special because unlike other stalls which use 'flat' noodles, Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles uses the thinner 'bee hoon' noodles and pork belly is also added to the dish.
FFT meets him at the famous hawker centre in Serangoon Gardens after training at Bedok Stadium, but we are disappointed to find his favourite stall closed. A visibly disappointed Kwok has to make do with some wanton noodles instead.
What's the secret to scoring a goal from the halfway line?
I saw the pass from the right-back back to the goalkeeper and anticipated that the 'keeper would clear the ball. I told myself that if the 'keeper were to play it to me I would try to hit it first time. The 'keeper really did play it straight to me and I gave it a try and it really went in! I didn't really think it was a fantastic goal at that moment. I was just very happy that we had equalised. I only realized it was a special goal when I went home and looked at the video.
I never imagined that it would find worldwide fame, with more than a hundred thousand views on Youtube.
It's really about instinct. We don't practice to score from the half-way line in training.
How has scoring a goal like that changed your life?
My life is still pretty much the same, except that I am now teased a lot by my team-mates. In the last few training sessions, they have all been trying their luck from half-field and when they miss, they will say it's because they are "not Fabian."
You have a higher profile now, do you think you will get called up to play for Singapore soon?
I am not letting the fame from the goal get to my head. I just concentrate on doing my best. Of course I would love to play for the national team. It's the dream of every local player to put on the Lions shirt. But I am actually thinking of retiring from football at the end of the season to focus on longer term goals. At the moment I am juggling football with classes in SIM where I am pursuing a degree in business management. When I complete my course, I would want a more secure job with better prospects in the long run. Football in Singapore is an uncertain career.
Geylang started the season very badly, but recent results have been impressive. What do you think the recovery is down to?
To be fair to coach Kanan (Vedhamuthu), our first three games were against the strongest teams: Warriors, Home United and Tampines Rovers. We really tried our best but it wasn't enough.
Coach Jorg (Steinebrunner) gave us flexibility and freedom. He allowed us to express ourselves on the pitch and gave us confidence.
What's it like inside the Geylang dressing room now?
We have good team spirit. I am really enjoying myself this year. The senior players like Aliff (Shafaein), Ridhuan (Muhammad) and Mustaqim (Manzur) create a lot of jokes and it livens up the mood.
Who are your best friends in the team?
Goalkeeper Joey Sim and right back Khairul Nizam. We live near each other and go to and from training together in Joey's car.
Who's the best player at Geylang?
Kento Fukuda. He's one year younger than me but there are so many things I can learn from him.
Which player do you model yourself on?
I support Liverpool and my favorite player is Steven Gerrard but I try to play like Barcelona's Xavi Hernández.
Who do you think will win this edition of the World Cup?
I really hope Spain will win it. Their tiki-taka football is a joy to watch.
What would you like to say to Geylang supporters?
I really appreciate the time they have taken to come down to support us. We won't win every game but we really give our 100%. You guys motivate us and keep us going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Hougang United: Lunch with... Diego Gama