Fandi Ahmad’s third son, Ilhan, to train and study in England for two years
SINGAPORE — Ilhan Fandi, the third son of local football icon Fandi Ahmad, has embarked on his quest to become a professional footballer in Europe, by enrolling in an English school to study and train.
The teenager left for England last Friday (Sept 8) to study at the Queen Ethelburga's College in York for the next two years. Ilhan will also be training at the i2i Football Academy, which has links to English football club Leeds United. The academy also has partnerships with both York College and York St John University and will assist in linking up players with English professional and semi-professional clubs.
“(Ilhan’s) ambition is to become a professional footballer and we (as parents) are here as tools to guide him towards his ambition,” his father told TODAY via text from York.
Ilhan will be taking an elite programme in football and “hopefully he can excel in both his studies and sports,” he added.
Ilhan is following in the footsteps of his elder brothers Irfan and Ikhsan by training and studying overseas. Irfan, 20, and Ikhsan, 17, spent two years with Chilean side Club Deportivo Universidad Catolicafrom 2014 to 2015, before they returned to Singapore last January to sign with S.League side Home United. In April 2016, they enlisted for NS, with Irfan in the Singapore Police Force and Ikhsan in the army.
The 14-year-old will be living in a boarding school. Fandi and his wife Wendy Jacobs flew to England on Saturday to help Ilhan settle in but will be returning to Singapore soon.
Fandi told TODAY last year that he was confident Ilhan can cope with staying overseas alone at such a young age.
“He has that mentality, passion, character and the skills are there… It’s his own desire to go to England, although we know it will be hard for him. Irfan and Ikhsan had each other when they were in Spain and South America. But I believe Ilhan has what it takes.”
Fandi added on Monday: “(Ilhan’s) very friendly and jovial and I'm sure he will gradually ease into the system both socially and academically.”
Currently, Fandi is funding his son’s education in England on his own. The former Singapore international said that Ilhan has two options after he completes his General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) programme at the Queen Ethelburga's College — to further his education in England up to the ‘A’ Levels, or to return to Singapore for early National Service (NS) enlistment.
“(Ilhan) hopes is to get more exposure on his football career (during his time in England) and work on his physical and mental development besides his studies,” he said.
Fandi also had this to say about Ilhan last year. “I think he’s very talented, so I want to give him the same opportunities like what his brothers had.”
Fandi has two other children, a son Iryan, 11, and a daughter Iman, 17.
In March this year, Fandi also revealed that Universidad Catolica, who are the reigning league champions in Chile, have been in touch regarding the possibility of a return for Irfan and Ikhsan after they complete their NS.
“I’m not sure (whether we will accept) ... we will see what happens, because Irfan is doing not too badly with Home and is also training with the national (senior) team. I hope he gets better and gets more exposure, and for Ikhsan as well. At the end of the day, we can only advise on what is best for them.”