In an exclusive for English Players Abroad, the Yorkshire-born midfielder Thomas Beattie talks winning the S. League title and playing against Owen Hargreaves.
The 28-year-old plays in Singapore for Warriors FC and has just begun his third consecutive season in Asia.
You can read more about Beattie in a post I made earlier this year.
English Players Abroad: You’ve been in Singapore for a couple of years now, how did the move to Asia come about?
Thomas Beattie: An old team mate of mine knew a coach at Home United and they were looking for new foreign signings, so recommended me. They saw my footage and paid for me to come over and train with them. Eventually I signed with Hougang, though.
EPA: How have you settled in since the move to Singapore? Has it been easy to adjust to the culture?
TB: I have travelled a lot via football so I’m used to being in foreign places and Singapore is fairly easy to adjust to in terms of lifestyle as there are many expats here who are always willing to help. The country is small, so very convenient in terms of travel. Having English coaches, friends and team mates helped me settle initially also.
EPA: You played in Canada before moving to Asia, what is the biggest difference between playing football abroad as opposed to in England?
TB: I played in Canada as I was waiting for visa approval to return to America and play but it was taking a long time and had friends across the border there so ended up going there in the process and stayed. In England, the game is a lot more physical and I think in general players are more ‘football savvy’ – knowing how to win games. There are very good players technically in Asia. They style of play in Asia is different but even amongst south East Asian countries the style differs also. You just have to adjust.
EPA: Your side Warriors FC had a good 2014 season, winning the league. How did it feel to the lift the trophy at the end of the year?
TB: It wasn’t as easy as it seems. We had, and still have a small squad, and the depth was a problem for us, but we were very close unit and worked very hard all year. It was rewarding to win the league knowing we had the odds stacked against us but over came lots of obstacles to get there. I think people only see the game sometimes and think that’s all we do, but if you knew the time, effort and energy we put in everyday at training to get there, it would surprise a few people. It was very satisfying to lift the trophy.
EPA: How much has it helped having a fellow Englishman as your coach?
TB: It is a big help having an English coach here as he understands the difference in culture and everything about where I’m from and so if I’m having frustrations or problems with things or need advice, he is there to help and having the same background means his perspective is usually the same. He showed faith in me to bring me from Hougang to Warriors so I try and work hard for, not only him, but to repay the faith he showed in me.
EPA: There are several foreign players in the Warriors side, what is the team chemistry like?
TB: The chemistry is very good among the team. The most important thing is integrating with the local players. After all, we are guests in their country and have to respect the difference in culture and upbringing – not only in football. If not, it can cause a big split in the team. Luckily, Warriors is a club that has a good bunch on local and foreign players and everyone makes an effort.
EPA: Former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean is in charge of fellow S. League side DPMM FC. Have you ever had the chance to meet him?
TB: I actually didn’t play Brunei last year! We played them [but] I missed the game at home through injury when I had surgery to fix a fractured skull and eye socket I received in a game. And then, the next meeting I was suspended! So hopefully this year I will be available.
EPA: How would you describe your own style of play?
TB: Well in Asia I’m looked at as a big player so my style of play here is little different. I like to get on the ball from deep and get things moving, be creative and also be a protective player for the back four when we lose possession.
EPA: Who is the best player you have ever played with or against?
TB: Best player I played against would maybe be Owen Hargreaves, his engine never stops! And played with, I would say my team mate Nico Velez. He has a long exciting career ahead of him, I think. Some of the things he does in games and training make people look like it’s their first day on the job.