Stories

Lim Chan Yew, Telling It Like It Is: I trialled and could have signed with Bournemouth

Former Malaysia defender Lim Chan Yew had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join English club Bournemouth for pre-season in July 2005. Nothing more was ever going to come out of it because of work permit issues, but the defender never knew about it until he got there...

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I was so happy to see Bournemouth get promoted to the English Premier League in 2016. Seeing them on television now brought back plenty of memories.

Current manager Eddie Howe and assistant Jason Tindall were playing for Bournemouth back in 2005. Steve Fletcher and Luke Young’s brother, Neil Young, were there too.

And so was I.

It was still beneficial though, in terms of tempo. It was unbelievable how fast they are compared to Malaysian football, where you can have five seconds before passing the ball.

It all began in 2004. Towards the end of the year, several Malaysians were shortlisted for a training stint with English club Bournemouth.

One goalkeeper (Syamsuri Mustafa), a midfielder (Fadzli Saari) and a defender, me. We went during winter in January 2005 and were accompanied by a cameraman, a reporter from Harian Metro and Bastien Onn, one of the guys who arranged the trip.

It was a three-week training stint sponsored by political party UMNO, but the league was still running so we usually joined in during warm-ups and were left out when it came to match preparation and set-pieces. We would be standing outside and could only watch.

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Lim went on a training stint with two others

There were no friendly matches as well because it was not pre-season. Only two-sided training that was deemed a fun activity.

It was still beneficial though, in terms of tempo. It was unbelievable how fast they are compared to Malaysian football, where you can have five seconds before passing the ball.

That doesn't happen there. Even before the ball reaches you, there is someone on your back.

Months after the stint, Bastien received an email from Bournemouth saying they wanted me to come back for the 2005-06 campaign pre-season.

It was a totally different experience but that was about it during my first trip.

The second trip however, that I went all by myself, was where I really got a feel of Bournemouth’s standards.

Months after the stint, Bastien received an email from Bournemouth saying they wanted me to come back for the 2005-06 campaign pre-season.

I remember it was the month of June. Bastien then spoke to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Tan Sri Ibrahim Saad.

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Lim actually played in pre-season games for Bournemouth

A budget of RM26,000 was quoted to FAM but it was cut down to RM18,000. The exchange rate was times seven at that time so it came to about £2,500.

Luckily it was enough in the end, largely because I got a discounted rate from the landlord and I cycled to the training ground, which was 30 minutes away, every day.

With the budget allocated, I set about on my journey and got to Bournemouth three days later than I was supposed to and had to miss the first match against Charlton Athletic.

This was because of the London bombing and my family, especially my mom, was afraid. The club initially laughed at my request to postpone the trip but it worked well in the end.

I asked him if he was going to send me to training and he said: “No, I have a bicycle. The tyre is flat so you have to take it to the shop in town first thing in the morning and then cycle to training.”

As compared to the first trip, this time I was all alone. There was no sending off by FAM and no accompanying media personnel. That’s probably why much of my second stint was not known.

Once I got to Heathrow, I bought a bus ticket for a two-hour journey to Bournemouth. I then took a taxi to where I was supposed to stay and met the club’s press officer Lance Riley. I did this while dragging my three bags along.