The Lions who applied for Singapore citizenship all on their own

Over the years, many foreigners have expressed an interest in playing for Singapore. These few walked the walk and actually went on to earn citizenship through their own means, not under the Foreign Talent Scheme… 

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Bah Mamadou (Mali)

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) only launched the Foreign Talent Scheme (FTS) in 2000, with the intention of naturalising two to three players annually.

That failed to be the case though, with only nine players brought through the scheme to date.

However, Bah Mamadou was anything but a product of the FTS. The Mali-born defender originally came to the S.League and linked up with Gombak United in 2000, becoming a Permanent Resident in 2002.

He moved on to Balestier in 2003 but was prematurely released, leaving him to eke out a living by acting as a technician while plying his trade in the amatuer National Football League.

Mamadou eventually re-joined the Tigers but his prior experience taught him to never take things for granted, leading to some impressive performances.

The defender eventually was signed by Home United and he applied for citizenship in 2004 as he wished to raise his son in Singapore.

Mamadou eventually got his application approved and was subsequently called up by the Lions. He earned his one and only cap in a friendly against Kuwait in 2006.

John Wilkinson (England)

Wilkinson once shared in an interview with the Guardian that he was invited to Singapore by the FAS in 2002, with an eye to naturalising him.

The FAS wanted a striker then and while Wilkinson was a midfielder by trade, he felt he could deliver and thus moved to Singapore, where he played for Woodlands Wellington.

Wilkinson would continue to excel on the field as he earned moves to Geylang United (now Geylang International) and then Singapore Armed Forces (now known as Warriors FC).

His performances with these clubs merited him being naturalised under the FTS, but Wilkinson actually applied for citizenship on his own, all in the name of love.

The reason he was willing to give up his British passport and identity was because he met his wife the year he arrived in Singapore.

Egged on by then-Singapore coach Radojko "Raddy" Avramovic, Wilkinson proposed to his Singaporean girlfriend of five years and subsequently attained his Singaporean passport.

Wilkinson would go on to earn 29 caps for the Lions, scoring four goals in the process.

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