His primary job is to score the goals for Home United but once he goes off the pitch, Ken Ilso has a different role at home...
A normal weekend without club duties for a full-time S.League footballer might comprise spending time with the family, sleeping in or indulging in some leisure activity but the same does not apply to Home United Striker Ken IIso.
He, on the other hand, logs in to his online student portal and starts watching his video lectures that take up to four to eight hours of his time. Why?
Because the Danish forward is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Law with the Southern Danish University.
Having a full-time profession as a footballer while studying requires the utmost dedication to time management and although the striker labels the juggling act as ‘challenging’, he told FourFourTwo that he does it because he needs more possibilities in life after football.
“One of the reasons I am doing law because it is so wide in a jobs perspective. It gives so much of opportunities inside the football world as well – like an agent or a middle man or whatever you want to call it.” said the 29-year-old who is currently on his first year of his five-year course.
“I just don’t want the possibility of only staying in football after I retire because I want to be able to do something else as well. It can get challenging once in awhile because I also want to live and enjoy Singapore.”
The former Bundesliga striker with Fortuna Düsseldorf, who does not have his own agent, also says that the law degree will help him understand contracts put before him in the meantime as professional footballer.
“I want myself to be able to understand my contract and obligations too. It will be good to understand the contracts you are given and can also negotiate them.”
It’s no surprise law was his choice of study, considering his career path so far. Ilso has already played in countries like Holland, China and Germany.
He has spent his last two years in Singapore, where he captured the imagination of Singaporeans.
Home coach Philippe Aw backed his star striker’s decision to take up a law degree, saying there is only so much more football Ilso can play.
“It is good for Ken IIso because a footballing career is actually very short. He is at the age where he is in his 30s, his career will end soon and he something to consider after that,” Aw said.
He added: “If you can balance it properly (playing and studying) then it is great for you!”
IIso will not be the only footballer to have chased paper qualifications off the field – Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata studied Journalism, Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp has a degree in medical engineering at the University of Bath and local footballer Fabian Kwok of Tampines Rovers has a degree in Business Management at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM-RMIT).
But this news was still of a pleasant surprise to local legend Aleksander Duric,who believes Ilso is setting a good example for his fellow professionals.
“That is a very rare case. Footballer of his calibre who is banging in goals while doing law? This is encouraging for many young players.” said the former striker.
“My opinion is that it is something difficult. Your focus might not be on football. You must be extraordinarily good at juggling both. Most footballers lose focus because of not enough of attention, it is hard but I believe it can be done.”
The 45-year-old Singapore legend also called upon the relevant parties to introduce policies which will aid footballers with the intention of upgrading themselves.
“Footballers in Europe when they are a big star they do not have to do this but in Singapore that is not the case. In the future I hope there are changes in the government policies that can help footballers and other sports that they can get a job after their sporting career.”