Ben Davis: Playing for Thailand is my best option
Former Singapore youth footballer Ben Davis has opened up on his decision to play for Thailand.
The Fulham youngster, who had defaulted on his national service (NS) obligations in Singapore, was called up to Thailand's Under-22 squad for the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games last month and joined up with the team on Monday.
In an interview with Thai TV channel True4u, the 18-year-old said turning out for the War Elephants was his best option.
He said in a post on True4U's Facebook page on Monday: "I talked to the whole family about choosing citizenship.
"I had a chance to choose to play for up to four countries. It's Singapore, Thailand, Wales and England. I have decided to choose the Thai national team.
"This is the best choice for me. I think Thai football has a bright future and has a chance to succeed.
"At first, my dad wanted me to play for the Singapore national team but, for some reason, it did not happen.
"Today, the Thai national team gave me a chance. I will try to do my best to pay back."
Davis added that his dream is to play in the top leagues like the English Premier League or La Liga and most importantly, the Champions League.
Davis, who was born in Phuket to a Thai mother and English father, moved to Singapore at the age of five and became a citizen four years later.
He represented Singapore at age-group levels, before going on to sign professional terms with then-EPL side Fulham's academy in July last year.
But his application for long-term deferment from NS was rejected.
In August last year, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen laid out the reasons for the rejection in Parliament, highlighting that "there was no commitment to serve Singapore and our national interests".
Dr Ng reiterated that "deferment... cannot be for that individual, no matter how talented, to pursue his own interests or career, even if it vicariously brings credit or fame to Singapore".
He also noted that Ben's father Harvey had "consistently refused" to pin down a date for his son to return to serve NS.
In February, Mindef confirmed Davis did not report for NS as required and had thus defaulted on his NS commitments.
It added that he is also staying overseas without a valid exit permit. As such, he is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.