Geylang International FC

Former great foreign signings

The season has ended and all teams in the league will be looking at preparing their team for the next season. With it, comes the familiar anticipation of who will be staying, leaving and joining.

Already rumours are abound as to the number of Eagles who will be leaving us next season but one thing is for sure, Eagles who have left the club tend to strengthen the other teams they join. One can easily point to local players in recent times such as Hafiz Rahim, Ahmad Latiff, Yazid Yasin to name a few amongst many who are rated highly in the S-League.

Before we reveal our team for 2014, we take a look at selected illustrious former Eagles who have donned our colours before and what they are doing now.

1998 World Cup Finals.  Lyon, France. 21st JUNE 1998. USA 1 v Iran 2.  Iran & USA players form a joint team group before the match.

Hamid Reza Estili & Mohammad Khakpour (1996)

The two Iranian ex-internationals came in 1996 and made their mark here instantly. Playing in a team made up of our very own legend Fandi Ahmad and also with the likes of Kadir Yahya and David Lee.

The team romped to the Tiger Beer series title and met Pioneer Series winners SAFFC in the S-League Grand Final (now defunct) to decide the grand champions of the inaugural season.

The Eagles won that day with a score of 2-1 with both Iranians scoring a goal each and proving their worth to the fans. Mohammad Khakpour put in an MVP performance in that game as he stood above the others with his classy defending.

A week later, the team won the FA Cup beating SAFFC again in the final to complete the double with both Iranians putting in a solid display of football.

Two years laters, in 1998, Eagles fans beamed as both players appeared in the FIFA World Cup and Hamid Reza Estili sealed his name in world football history when he scored with a header against the United States in a game which Iran won 2-1.

Hamid Reza Estili is now a coaching director back home in Iran at the Persepolis F.C Academy after retiring from the sport in 2004.

Mohammad Khakpour captained the Iranian team at the 1998 World Cup and ended his career in the United States playing with Metrostars in 2000.

He then established a youth academy called MK Soccer Club in Newport Beach, California. He had some involvement in Iranian football once in a while and his last known stint with an Iranian club was with Steel Azin FC in 2011.

Brendon Santalab

Brendon Santalab

Another fan-favourite, Brendon was another former Eagle who is also perhaps one of the best strikers to have played in the S-League.

He came to Bedok Stadium in 2003 at the age of 21 on loan from Sydney United and his skill set him apart immediately from the rest. Never once overawed, the then-youngster made his mark in the league with 23 goals in 22 games.

He then left Singapore and secured a contract in Belgium with KV Oostende and later on with K Sint-Truidense VV till 2006. He was then loaned to Hungarian club Ujpest FC.

The following year, Brendon Santalab went back to Australia and rejoined Sydney FC where he scored several important goals for the club. His goal against Adelaide United won the “Hyundai A-League Goal of the Year 07/08”.

Brendon then spent the last five years playing in China for Chengdu Blades and Chongqing Lifan where he made a positive impact.

He is now back in the Hyundai A-League after being snapped up by Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2013/2014 season.

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Geylang International have shown that the club does have a knack for signing quality players and Jozef Kaplan’s performance for the club in the last two seasons will definitely put him up there as one of the best foreign signings in this current times.

If history is anything to go by, then it bodes well for the club next season and fans can rest assure that whoever is coming to replace the likes of Jozef will be an able replacement, if not better.

We have highlighted three former Eagles who are big names in the football world but how about you fans?

Who do you think is the best foreign signing to have ever played for the club in the history of the S-League?

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