Fabian Kwok: The double life of a professional footballer

At the age of 27, Fabian Kwok is at the prime of his career, but in an interview with FourFourTwo Singapore, the versatile player revealed that he has been toying with the idea of retiring almost every year. 

In an era where one-year contracts are the norm, the end of every season can be a very stressful time for local footballers and the worry of life after football hangs heavily on them.

“The thought comes every year, the thought honestly comes every year, it’s so draining at the end of season,” said Kwok, adding that he is thankful that clubs have approached him to play for them.

“There are stories of players who have no clubs, they are so desperate to continue playing football,” he told FourFourTwo.

“When I hear stories like this it’s just so exhausting sometimes, I feel for them.”

Kwok made the switch from Tampines Rovers and chose to go to Hougang United for the upcoming season as he looks for more playing time under coach Philippe Aw.

“There were options, I must say,” Kwok said.

“But why Hougang is because I’ve worked with Clement (Hougang’s Team Manager) before and… not having played much at Tampines, I was definitely looking for a club where I could get more playing opportunities.”

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Kwok hopes he will improve under Aw

Kwok said he is happy with Hougang now and he is hoping to establish himself in the team saying that he wants to stay long term with Hougang.

“To point out, I think there are some players here like Nurhilmi (Jasni), he has been here I think six years,” Kwok said.

“If all goes well, I would like to have six years here as well,”

The Double Life

The combative midfielder started his career playing for Young Lions, before going on to make a name for himself at Geylang International after scoring from near the halfway line in 2014. 

His spectacular goal went viral and put S.League on the map as his goal was featured on overseas publications such as United Kingdom’s Bleacher Report and Daily Mirror.

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Kwok doubles up as a marketing executive at Komoco

Soon, Tampines Rovers came knocking to sign him up and it was here that Kwok began his double life. Under the former Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng, Kwok started working outside of football with vehicle distributor company Komoco Motors.

So in the morning, Fabian will clock in for work at Komoco and at the end of the day, he will leave slightly earlier than the rest of his colleagues to go for trainings.

“Having moved to Tampines, it gave me a link to Komoco and because of that I am very appreciative of what Mr Teo provided me,” said Kwok.

Having moved to Tampines, it gave me a link to Komoco and because of that I am very appreciative of what Mr Teo provided me

“Despite being with Hougang I am still with Komoco also, I think that all started with my move to Tampines.”

“My playing time suffered but (for my) football as a whole, I definitely improved with a majority of (my teammates) being national players, even training with them helped,” he added.

Since 2015, Kwok has worked at Komoco and is currently a marketing executive handling the car brand Jeep, which Komoco is a distributor of.

Football is like a drug

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Football brings joy like no other for Kwok

Despite his career outside of football firming up, Kwok still wants to play professional football for as long as he can.

“I want to play until 35, if I can, or even longer if my body allows me to,” Kwok said.

Reaching 28, I am starting to feel the rate of recovery is slowing down slightly from my younger days but I still think I can easily go another three to five years

“Reaching 28, I am starting to feel the rate of recovery is slowing down slightly from my younger days but I still think I can easily go another three to five years,” added Kwok, who recently picked up an ankle injury during a friendly against SAFSA.

He likened professional football to a drug that gives players – and coaches – a high like nothing else outside of the field.

“It’s not just for players, I think even coaches. Every season you see coaches getting sacked but they are still dying to get a job in S.league,” said Kwok.

“They know it may only last a year but they still want to be a part of it.”

Photos: Hougang United