Somehow overlooked, the S.League’s most successful coach still ready to return
Till this day, Richard Bok remains puzzled as to why he has been passed over for the top jobs in local football.
After all, Bok’s track record speaks for itself - four consecutive S.League titles from 2006 to 2009, three Singapore Cups and three Coach of the Year awards to his name.
I'm available but there are no clubs who want to talk to me. It’s not like I'm asking for the moon or the sky
“I'm available but there are no clubs who want to talk to me. It’s not like I'm asking for the moon or the sky,” Bok told FourFourTwo.
“Despite winning so many trophies with SAFFC, I wasn’t the highest paid either; a foreign coach comes in and is already paid higher than me.
“Former Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng once told me, ‘If you are in Korea and win four (domestic) titles, you will be the national team coach.’ I told him that it’s different here and they don’t base it on track record.”
Under Bok’s tutelage, Warriors also performed admirably on the continental stage as they put Singapore football on the map by becoming the first Singaporean side to qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL) in 2009, repeating the feat in 2010.
They even claimed their first win in the competition in 2010 after beating Chinese side Henan Jianye 2-1 at home.
When Bok ended his 18-year association with Warriors in 2012 after lifting his final Singapore Cup, he took a short hiatus before meeting with officials from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
I actually offered my services to FAS to take the 2013 SEA Games squad
“I actually offered my services to FAS to take the 2013 SEA Games squad,” he shared.
“At that point of time, (then-FAS President) Zainudin Nordin had been asking me to meet him for a while so I eventually met up with him and (then-FAS Secretary) Winston Lee. We met up and I told them this side had a good chance of getting into the final with the likes of Izwan (Mahbud) and Hariss (Harun) in it.
“At the end of the day, nothing came out of it and I wasn't the one they chose.”
The post eventually went to Aide Iskandar but there proved to be a silver lining for the 49-year-old Bok.
For if things had gone his way, he could have found himself coaching in China instead.
In November 2013, Bok received a call from China’s former no. 1 goalkeeper Ou Chuliang, whom he had met at an AFC Instructor Course held in Singapore.
“He told me that his chairman wanted to interview me for the head coach post at the now-defunct Guangzhou Sunray Cave FC. This was the third team in Guangzhou, other than Evergrande and R&F,” he recalled.
“He was working in that team as their goalkeeper coach back then and was very close to the boss but of course, I wasn’t the only candidate who was considered for this position.
Without much hesitation, Bok jetted off to China where he would spend two days.