Interview with Fabian Kwok
By Andrew Ang on 15 May 2014
As the ball left his right foot, little did Fabian Kwok know that 24 hours later he was to become an overnight sensation across the football world. As clips of his goal was uploaded onto various platforms, many gasped at the sheer audacity of the Geylang International midfielder to try from that far out, and without a first touch to settle the ball down. The goal even transcended the Asian shores, placing the S.League on the world map as it was shared by prominent media outlets like U.K’s Bleacher Report as well as the Daily Mirror. His sudden rise to fame has been followed by strong calls for Fabian to be included in Singapore’s squad for the year end AFF Suzuki Cup. For those following the Eagles’ progress this season, however, the player has stood out for his strong performances every week. Strong in tackles and with a good eye for a pass, Fabian Kwok is more than just a one hit wonder. EaglesTV caught up with Fabian Kwok to speak to him about his wonder goal, his future aspirations amongst other football matters.
How did you start to play football and how was your journey to professional football like?
I started playing when I was in Primary 2. That was when my dad got me a Liverpool jersey and that got me interested in football. Then I played for my primary school, Kebun Bahru Primary (now defunct) and from there I went on to play for my secondary school, St Gabriel’s Secondary School. At St Gabriel’s, my interest only grew stronger because I played with really good players like Matthew Abraham (currently at Tampines Rovers), Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Takzim) and Hafiz Abu Sujad (LionsXII). When I was 16, coach Vedhamuthu Kanan came to scout me and that was when I knew I wanted to play football professionally. Since then I have risen through the ranks at Geylang International to play in the S.League.
Eagles’ players celebrate Fabian Kwok’s wonder goal as an Albirex player looks on.
Let’s talk about that goal then. Did you expect such furore over the goal and the media coverage that came with it?
Of course not, I was definitely very surprised. On my mind, I just wanted to help the team win the game. If we won the game, we would be closer to the top six. I didn’t expect such media coverage because at that time, I was just happy to have scored like that. Only on the next day, did I see people share the video and I took a look as well and I asked myself, “Is that really me?” *Laughs*
What about your family? What did they tell you?
Well, they were happy for me but they reminded me to stay grounded. At the end of the day, it is important to be humble and work hard.
Football fans in Singapore are calling for you to be called up to the national team. Are you hoping for the call up?
I will just continue to work hard for my club. I will not expect any call ups but if the national coach calls me up, I will gladly accept it because it is every footballer’s dream to represent his country. But like I said, I play for myself, my team and my family. If I function for my own self-interest, it’s not fair to the 10 other players on the field.
It’s the start of the second round in the league against Warriors. What do you make of the season so far?
I think some results have not been in our favour, especially the draws. Our performances have been improving and we have recovered well from our bad form in the early season. Since the new coach came in, we have come a long way and we will improve further. We have to aim to be in the top six at the end of the season.
You mentioned the coaching change. How much of an influence has head coach Jorg Steinebrunner been in your rise to form?
The coaching change has definitely helped us to improve as players. Coach Jorg gives us the freedom to play and express ourselves. And, he used to be a central midfielder himself, so in training he guides me a lot and I have really learned as much as I can from him.
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool is Fabian’s football idol.
Who is your football idol?
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. In games, you can see his desire clearly. When the opponents hit his team on the counter attack, the way he chases back is exemplary. It makes me want to work just as hard as him. His work rate is fantastic. Plus, he is always so humble and doesn’t try to gain attention off the field.
Steven Gerrard has hit some fantastic volleys and long shots in his career. Is that a part of his game that you are trying to replicate?
I have seen many Steven Gerrard videos on YouTube. In football you’ll never know what can happen so when I can, I always try to have a go. People can say my goal was lucky, but to me it is about taking the chance and taking the responsibility to have a go.
Where does your future lie?
I am finishing my degree in Business Management at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM-RMIT). My initial plan was to retire from football at the end of this year. We are in Singapore, so looking at the longer term and being realistic, I want to work as a HR Manager or pursue business because it has always been my interest. My two sisters studied business as well and they are doing well for themselves. But at the moment, I am not too sure because of the latest happening in terms of the goal and I will consider my options again at the end of the season.
You mentioned Singapore. Why do you think it is hard to pursue sports as a career here?
Some people do make it in sports in Singapore. But for the rest, we are earning enough just to get by. By the time a footballer retires at 35, he has to start from square one. Job security is vital and it’s scary to think about what you are going to do when you retire from football.
The S.League has seen a rise in the number of foreigners. Do you think it has been beneficial to young players like you?
I believe foreign players do help the local players improve. But, five foreign players in one team is too many. I think each club should be able to register four players and field three at one time. Instead of spending money on five foreigners, we can limit it to spending on three. That way, we can really get good quality foreigners. Take a look at the Courts Young Lions. How many of them get to even be on the bench. If these players get released to clubs, it’s better for Singapore football.
What are your interests outside football?
Family and friends are vital to me. I love spending time with my family. We are very close and I believe family time is very important. Besides that, I hang out my friends and have supper.
Lastly, going forward, what are your hopes for Geylang International and yourself?
For me, I want Geylang to finish in the top six. And I believe we can do it, with the squad we have this season. I want to see this club do better, not just results wise but overall, in terms of funding and what not. In general, I’m Eagles till I die, and I want the club to grow. I have been here since 16 and I hope to see this club do well again.