Zikos Chua is the rare Chinese player Singapore football needs for the future
The 16-year-old made history on July 5 as the youngest ever footballer to play in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) when he came on as a late substitute in the 3-1 win over Young Lions.
Just weeks later, Zhua who was born in Greece to a Greek mother and a Singaporean father has gone one better as he was selected by Usui to start in the game against Tampines Rovers.
Despite his team losing 4-1 to the Stags, there were plenty of positives for the youngster who showed glimpses of what he can do if given the right exposure.
“Zikos only joined our senor team two months ago and every day in training, he scores goals in our sparring matches,” Usui told FOX Sports Asia.
“He scored against in training this week and this start was not a token appearance for him. It was his own ability that got him in the lineup.
“He played against many experienced players like Amirul Adli and Yasir (Hanapi) who are all national team players and that is good exposure for him.”
Having risen through the ranks of the National Football Academy and starring for his school team – Tanjong Katong Secondary – in the ‘B’ Division, Chua is no stranger to scoring goals.
Usui sees Chua’s ability as a forward not just a positive for Geylang but also for the Singapore national team in future.
The Japanese tactician said: “He played 48 minutes and had to go up against (Fahrudin) Mustafic and (Daniel) Bennett, two very experienced and big players. That will help him in his development.
“To have a Chinese youngster like him who wants to play football in this country is very rare. He is tall and has a good size to play as an attacker. I think this is very important for Singapore football.”
While he may have already have a record to his name and a taste of professional football, Chua is refusing to look beyond the next game as he aims to fulfil his dream of donning national colours one day.
“I have a goal to play for Singapore but now is about the next game,” Chua said. “Today was a very good experience and I learned many things like positioning and thinking quicker but I am not letting it get to me.
“This is just one game and I have to go back into training and do it every day. I just want to train hard and grab as much playing time given to me as possible.”
Geylang have seven games remaining before the end of their 2018 league campaign but the Singapore Cup, scheduled to kick off in August could be the perfect platform for the boy wonder to score his first senior goal for the Eagles.