One-on-one with Goh Tat Chuan: The man who disappeared
FFT: You disappeared from the local football circles after your retirement in 2007. Is there any special reason why you seem to have gone off the radar?
Not really, it’s just a matter of me moving on in my life and pursuing my career away from football. When I stopped playing, I stopped playing totally, I don’t play social games or amateur games, because I really want to make the best use of my time.
I have lived the dream, played for the national team, and now it is time to give my time to my family and my career, which were in the backseat when I was pursuing my football dream.
At the moment I am a regional sales director for a Norwegian company in the Oil and Gas industry.
FFT: Tell us about winning the AFF Championship in 2004.
That year, Singapore football was at an all time low. In the previous edition of the tournament in 2002, we were thrashed 4-0 by Malaysia and were eliminated at the group stages. So in 2004, nobody gave us any hope, nobody thought we could make it through the group stages.
The team in 2004 was a team of unknowns, a team full of new players. Players like Hassan Sunny, Khairul Amri, Baihakki Khaizan, they were making their Tiger Cup debuts for Singapore. Without any pressure or expectation, we were fearless, we had nothing to lose, and we surprised everybody.
It’s also about belief. The press can write you off, people can slam you, but you must believe in yourself, because if you believe what is written about you in the newspapers, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
Teamwork was critical. We did not have any star players. I think Fandi Ahmad was very special, and in the Singapore teams after him, you do not have any player who could turn a game on their own. Even in the present team, you will see that we do not have any player who is more outstanding than the rest, so it was really down to the teamwork and the tactics of the coach (Raddy Avramovic) in playing to the strengths of his players.
And finally, it’s also about belief. The press can write you off, people can slam you, but you must believe in yourself, because if you don’t and start believing what is written about you in the newspapers, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
FFT: That’s a lot like the present Singapore team
I am not quite sure about that. Because in 2002, we were a team full of hungry young players but in the present Singapore team, I can still see four of my 2004 teammates in the starting 11 – Baihakki, Amri, Hassan Sunny and Daniel Bennett!
FFT: How did you get your start in football?
I was not one of those players who were discovered or scouted while playing for my school, even though I was the best player in my school.
So at 19, I decided to be pro-active and take a step further to achieving my football dream. Gilbratar Crescent were having a trial for players and I still remember, I told my mum, I am going to this place in Yishun Ring Road for football trials.
I had never been to that part of Singapore before but I looked up the directions and with my pair of football boots, took a long MRT ride there.
It only took me one touch. The coach was T. Aravinthan, who played for the national team at that time and later became a referee.
He was the guy who spotted me. In the whole game, I had only one touch but the next moment he was coming over to me and telling me to turn up for the next training, and the rest is history.