Singapore-born son of a gun dreaming of the Socceroos
Ryan’s father Alistair Edwards is well known in both countries, particularly in Malaysia, where he helped Johor to a famous league and Malaysia Cup double back in 1991.
Alistair is now back in Johor as the sporting director of Malaysia Super League club Johor Darul Ta’zim.
When I flew into Singapore, it was literally the first time I’d been back since birth. Twenty-two years
Alistair’s first stop after he finished playing in Johor was Singapore and that is where Ryan was born, on November 17, 1993.
“My dad met my mum in Singapore when he was playing there and floated between Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia playing football,” Ryan explains.
“My older brother [Cameron] was born in Sydney, he’s 19 months older than me, and I then happened to be born in Singapore.
“If you look at my birth certificate, I left Singapore about nine or 10 days after I was born – or as soon as you can leave – and we had time in England and I also went to an international school in Malaysia.
“That was pre-school, kindergarten, that sort of thing. I don’t really have a lot of memories of it.
“Then I settled down in Perth when I was five [when his dad joined Perth Glory] and was there until I moved to the Australian Institute of Sport when I was 16. That’s how it all came about.”
Despite such a brief spell in Singapore – indeed, Ryan’s trip back there in May this year was his first ever trip back to the country of his birth – it would still have a significant influence on his young life.
“When I flew into Singapore, it was literally the first time I’d been back since birth. Twenty-two years,” he said. “I lived in Perth my whole life and never really travelled as a family to go overseas. It was more just in Australia.
Dad called up and said ‘my son has never lived in the country, we were told he can be exempt from National Service’. They said ‘no, you have to come’
“Then football took me from Perth to Canberra and then I moved to Reading in England when I was 17.
“But Singapore obviously have their National Service rule. I turned 18 and you’re supposed to go when you become 18.
“Funnily enough dad called up and said ‘my son has never lived in the country, we were told because of this he can be exempt from National Service’. They were like ‘no, you have to come’.
“This was a couple of months before my 18th birthday and I’d never been in transit in Singapore or anything like that.
“I thought ‘what are we going to do here?’”
So began a series of discussions between Edwards’ family and the Singapore government.
In the end the youngster who had only ever considered Australia his home was left with two choices.