From the NFL to the S.League: The ones who did it

The National Football League is viewed as a lesser cousin to the S.League but here are five players who used the competition to earn moves to Singapore’s top flight...

Shawal Anuar

Who says you are not good enough for the S.League if you play in the National Football League (NFL)?

Shawal Anuar will have you know that is simply not true, given how his career has progressed so far.

Playing with Keppel Monaco FC just three years ago, Shawal never gave up on his dreams and eventually impressed enough to be recruited into Geylang International’s Prime League squad in 2014.

Shawal rise to the top has been astonishing

Starting his S.League career near the age of  24, many will be forgiven for doubting Shawal’s ability to make the cut in Singapore’s top flight.

But the winger since went on to break into the senior team, before capping his meteoric rise in 2016 by earning a call-up to the national team. He made his debut that year and has featured for Singapore twice so far.

Shawal has since went on trial with Japanese side second division team Matsumoto Yamaga and is now viewed as an integral member of Geylang.

Shunsuke Nakatake

Not many will remember this Japanese midfielder, but the Hougang Hools most certainly will.

Arriving in Singapore in March, 2013, Nakatake sought for a playing contract with the local S.League clubs.

To his dismay, the transfer window had already closed by then and all the clubs had maximised their five-man foreign quota.

Hougang fans will remember Nakatake

Refusing to give up, Nakatake maintained his sharpness and technical abilities by playing for NFL side Eunos Crescent.

The following year, he went on trial with Hougang United and then-coach Amin Nasri was impressed enough to allocate one of the five foreign slots to Nakatake.

The Japanese took to the S.League like a fish to water and was a key player for Amin’s side as they sought to secure a then-best-ever finish in the S.League.

Although the Cheetahs were eventually edged out for a top-six finish by Balestier on goal difference, many were impressed by Nakatake that year..

Nakatake stayed on for another year in Hougang before earning a move to Malaysia Premier League Kuantan in 2016.