The imports Singapore called upon under the Foreign Talent Scheme
Name: Agu Casmir
Year he became Singaporean: 2004
Beginning his career with Woodlands Wellington, the then-18-year-old Agu Casmir made an instant impression in his first season as he scored 27 goals.
With another 15 goals the following season, the Nigerian-born striker convinced the national selectors that he was good enough for the FTS and he was recruited to Young Lions in 2004.
Agu eventually redeemed himself at the SEA Games, as he helped Singapore end a 12-year wait for a football medal
Agu would make his international debut against Norway on January 28, 2004. Even though he was largely anonymous after coming on at half-time, then-Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic was confident he had another raw gem on his hands.
The striker proved his worth towards the end of the year, as he scored vital goals that led to Singapore’s second Tiger Cup (now known as AFF Suzuki Cup) triumph.
However, Agu raised questions about the merits of the FTS once again in 2006, after he infamously signed for Persija Jakarta but refused to turn up for training, even though he had collected a US$20,000 (S$27,700) signing fee.
The FAS banned Agu from playing for the national team for a year and also handed him a huge fine — not that it had any impact on the Lions, with a red-hot Noh Alam Shah leading the frontline in a second successive Suzuki Cup title in 2007.
Agu eventually redeemed himself at the year-end SEA Games, as he helped Singapore end a 12-year wait for a football medal by claiming third place.
The striker would go on to feature for the national team until 2012, when he failed to make the cut for the Suzuki Cup squad and missed out on Singapore’s fourth regional title.
Name: Itimi Dickson
Year he became Singaporean: 2004
Like Agu before him, Itimi Dickson was a product of the FTS. He caught the eye in 2001 as a 17-year-old, dazzling with current national team head coach V.Sundramoorthy’s Jurong FC.
With his speed and technical abilities, Woodlands came calling and that was when Dickson first linked up with Agu Casmir in 2002.
As the duo started to make a name for themselves, FAS began integrating them into the national set-up and moved them over to the Young Lions in 2004.
Dickson found himself left out in the international wilderness thereafter
Like Agu, Dickson received his citizenship in 2004 and turned out for Singapore just a month later, starting in a 2-0 win over Indonesia on September 4. He would go on to be part of the lethal offence that led Singapore to the 2005 AFF title.
However, Dickson’s influence with the national team began to wane in 2007, especially after he missed centralised training with the squad and was handed a six-month ban by FAS. The emerging talents of Ridhuan Muhammad and Khairul Amri too did not help his case.
Dickson would play a bit-part role in Singapore’s 2007 AFF campaign, although he did come off the bench to play against Thailand in the final.
Dickson found himself left out in the international wilderness thereafter and he was only recalled two years later, in 2009, as a replacement for Amri, who pulled out of the squad for a friendly game against China after suffering a fever.
The Nigerian-born winger failed to appear for Singapore since then and subsequently hung up his boots in 2012, after failing to find any club to take him in.
These days, he can be found coaching at various private football academies.
Name: Shi Jia Yi
Year he became Singapore: 2005
The national selectors probably got it right with Shi Jia Yi, after spotting his obvious talents when he played for former S.League club Sinchi FC in 2003.
They moved quickly to lock him down under the FTS, as he moved over to the Young Lions during the mid-season transfer window in 2004 and earned a nomination for the S.League Young Player of the Season award.
The midfielder made his international debut in 2005, starting in a 2-0 win over Cambodia. He continued to be picked regularly by Avramovic and proved his worth by helping Singapore to the 2007 Suzuki Cup title.
The Chinese-born winger missed out on the final four games of the successful 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign due to a family emergency, but there was no doubt he played a vital role in the charge to the semi-finals.
In total, Shi made a grand total of 68 caps and scored seven goals. He could have added more appearances, but was frozen out of the national team after Avramovic’s predecessor Stange decided he wanted to cultivate a young squad.