Interwood FC, a youth football club based in Walthamstow, London have helped the likes of Colin Kazim-Richards and Jay Simpson launch their professional football careers and they could soon have another former player to add to their hall of fame. Harry Singh is only 22 but he has just arrived at his third different country since leaving the UK at the start of 2016.
“I grew up in Barnet, north London, and couldn’t imagine ever leaving at a young age but I have a strong passion for football so it wasn’t a hard choice when opportunities came my way!”
Singh’s football career heralded from humble beginnings, playing for his local club Whetstone Wanderers before moving to Interwood but his ability has now taken him to Sweden, Portugal and Malta.
“When I moved to Interwood, that’s when I knew I wanted to take football as a career,” he says. “Interwood has taken so many players further on into the pro game so it was a great opportunity for me.”
Although the Walhamstow-based club has a great reputation for developing some of the capital’s brightest prospects, Interwood have no senior teams so Singh soon progressed on to join the youth side of National League club Boreham Wood were he made an instant impact.
“Boreham Wood was a massive help to my career as in my first season I won Players’ Player of the Year and also got an England Colleges call-up, which then bought attention from different people, especially abroad.”
The defender already had a style suited to playing abroad, describing himself as a ball-playing defender who likes to receive the ball and keep it moving quickly, but his move to Sweden came through a real stroke of luck.
“I was with a friend just having a kick around and got invited by someone to have a showcase match,” he says. “I genuinely just went there as I fancied a game and from there was a guy who took three of us to Sweden.
“I’ve learnt in football that of course you need ability but you also need that luck along the way. It was just right place at the right time for me.”
Singh first joined the under-21 side of top flight club IF Elfsborg and admits that he did not initially settle in as well as he had hoped.
“In all honesty, at first I struggled as I’m very close with my family so it was tough but looking at that move now it’s the best thing I could have done and I’m so happy I made the move, I definitely feel I’m seeing the benefits now!”
Singh, who sees himself as a defensive-midfielder in the mold of Sergio Busquets in the future, went on to experience first team football for BW 90 IF and Ljungby IF, making nine appearances in the fifth-tier of Swedish football last year and he noticed a real difference from the style of play he was used to.
“The football was completely different, in my opinion. In England, the pace of it is a lot quicker with much less time on the ball. Sweden was more tactical and teams didn’t seem to press you as high which allowed you more time on the ball.”
After his spell in Sweden, Singh had enjoyed his time abroad enough to want to continue his development overseas and joined Portuguese third-tier side Lusitano VRSA at the start of this year. It was a move that the 22-year-old speaks highly of, with his style of play again making him feel at home.
“The move to Portugal was the best thing I’ve done so far. The quality of coaching was great, every training session was enjoyable and also the players were very good.
“I feel the way football is played in Portugal suits me the most as they want to play from the back and players seem to trust each other a lot more in tight areas, which as a player, I like. Every training session was with the ball also and even the goalkeepers were like outfield players!”
After four months, Singh had gained a lot more from his time in Portugal than just one league appearance he made but after his side were relegated, he joined Maltese Premier League side Mosta this summer and has played an active role in their pre-season ahead of their league campaign, it is his third new country in two years.
“If you said this to me when I was 16 I would have laughed,” he says. “I could never have imagined living in three different countries but each move has been better for my career.
“It has not been easy especially living away from the people who mean the most to me but it is all worth it as I’m doing something I love everyday. Waking up and playing football is just such a dream and I’m so grateful I have this opportunity.
“In terms of living on my own, I’m used to it now and actually enjoy it.”
Having played in the Mosta Domain Tournament, a pre-season tournament competed by six Maltese Premier League sides, finishing second, Singh is hopeful the season ahead can be a positive one.
“My ambitions for this season is to play as many games as possible and do my best for the team. Hopefully we can challenge for a top four position.”
A top four finish would mark a significant improvement for Mosta who finished tenth in the fourteen team division last season but with Singh on board this season, the experiences he has gained across Europe will no doubt benefit the team and looking ahead, he is focused on improving his game once again.
“My long-term goals would firstly be to keep improving and work hard everyday. I’m sure if you have this mentality, it will take you where you want to be. Football isn’t easy so you have to keep pushing and I believe your goals will be achieved.”
Singh certainly has the right attitude for top-level football and in Malta, he has the perfect platform to kick-start a long and successful career in European football.