Singapore's best South American imports: Ten standouts

Over the years, there have been numerous South American players who have flattered to deceive in the S.League. But what about those who thrived? We look at 10 of the best, in no particular order…. (Hint: There’s a distinct Samba flavour to this list)

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1. Nicolas Velez

Forward |Argentina| Warriors FC (2014-2015)

With 29 goals in 38 appearances for the club across one and a half seasons, Velez is undoubtedly the best-ever Argentinian to have played in the S.League.

With just one goal in his first seven games for Warriors, the product of the famed River Plate youth academy struggled initially. But, a four-goal haul to inspire a 4-0 thrashing of Albirex Niigata came soon after and proved to be the turning point as he began to bulge the net regularly.

It was not just his goals, but also his skill and speed which made Velez such a big threat

His 21 goals in his first season led the Warriors to their ninth S.League title and won him the Young Player of the Year gong. It was not just his goals, but also his skill and speed which made him such a big threat.

Velez continued to show his prowess before leaving for greener pastures at Indian Super League side Northeast United midway through the following year. 

He went on to play in the Thai League in 2017 where he plundered in 13 goals in 28 appearances. He currently plies his trade for Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia where he has already netted eight goals in 14 games.

2. Egmar Goncalves

Forward | Brazil | Home United (1996-2006)

He came, he saw and he conquered. Egmar arrived in the S.League’s inaugural season in 1996, scored 17 goals and never looked back.

The Brazilian forward was always amongst the frontrunners for the Golden Boot in his 11 seasons here and eventually claimed the prize in 2004. The Home United man accumulated a massive 239 goals which made him the second-highest scorer in S.League history, before he returned to Brazil in 2007.

Apart from hitting the back of the net, Egmar was also a selfless worker up front with the ability to work an extra yard and bring his fellow attackers into play. It was his presence upfront that led the Protectors to two S.League titles and four Singapore Cups.

Egmar took up Singapore citizenship but failed to make much of an impact for the national team - but he will go down in the memory as one of the best-ever strikers to play in  the S.League.

3. Tales Dos Santos

Defender | Brazil | Brunei DPMM (2012-2013)

Standing at an imposing 1.97m, Dos Santos was imperious in the air and a real rock at the heart of the DPMM defence. His superb reading of the game helped the club to a runners-up finish in their first season back in the S.League.

While the Wasps’ form declined the following year, the Brazilian continued to excel and showed a knack of popping up at the right place at the right time to score – including a memorable brace to defeat Home United 3-2 at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.

Dos Santos would end his DPMM career with 11 goals in 38 appearances – that’s one almost every four games, not too bad for a defender!