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Singapore-made Top Defender

            Does this figure ring a bell? This 1.88m tall centreback who used to ply his trade with Liverpool, Millwall, currently a Norwich’s regular and also an United States NT’s

           

Does this figure ring a bell? This 1.88m tall centreback who used to ply his trade with Liverpool, Millwall, currently a Norwich’s regular and also an United States NT’s hopeful. He is 27 years old and his name is Zak Whitbread. And if you find the name familiar but kind of unfamiliar, well, you should know his dad – Barry Whitbread – former Singapore NT’s coach who leaded Singapore to its very first international triumph, Tiger Cup (currently known as Suzuki Cup) in 1998.

Born to an English’s family, Zak Whitbread was born in Texas but grew up in England. Zak followed his dad to Singapore when he was just 10 years old. During his 5 years stay in Singapore, Zak lived like a normal Singaporean and he even turned out for Geylang Utd youth. Then it came a day when the senior Whitbread asked the junior if he wanted to pursuit a dream in futbol, the junior replied yes, and off the Whitbreads returned to England. 

Sometimes, it’s really amazing to know that someone who actually lived in Singapore and literally trained under Singapore’s futbol system and eventually shone at the highest level in the world. It prompted me to start thinking could it be a individual talent or Singapore’s futbol system which actually produce such an unbelievable! And if credit does go to Singapore’s futbol system, then why there aren’t any improvement to our NT? As much as how unwillingly I feel, majority of Zak Whitbread’s success goes to his hardwork and his never-stop-fighting attitude.

I have always been trying to keep up with Zak’s ever since I chanced upon a newspaper report of him breaking into Liverpool’s first team some years back. He did not make a great impact then. Eventually he opted for Millwall. And that was when he established himself as a reliable centreback. His career was not as smooth as you thought, he was constantly pull-back by injuries. One of his biggest breakthrough was his called-up to United States NT early this year to face Argentina and Paraguay in friendlies. Unfortunately, Zak was not featured in the games as he sustained injury from club duty. 

Nevertheless, this United States player went through the hard way and has proven himself at the top level in Europe. Junpiter Futbol wishes him all the best and should there be an opportunity for an interview with him, I believe many Junpiter Futbol’s followers will be glad and delighted. Till then, we will follow him from the newspaper and internet. Good luck, Zak!

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christian@node8.net

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