Fandi bin Ahmad (born 29 May 1962) is a Singaporean association football coach and former professional player. He mainly played as a striker, but could also play as a midfielder. He played for Malaysia Cup state sides Singapore FA, Kuala Lumpur FA and Pahang FA, and won titles with all three, including two Doubles in 1992 and 1994, and the Golden Boot in 1988. Fandi also played for Niac Mitra (Indonesia), FC Groningen (Netherlands), Geylang United (Singapore) and Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC). With the Singapore national football team, Fandi won 101 caps, scored 52 goals, won three Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) silver medals and was captain from 1993 to 1997. He managed SAFFC and Pelita Jaya (Indonesia), served as assistant national coach and runs the Fandi Ahmad Academy. As a 1994 winner of the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (state medal), the first Singaporean footballer to play in Europe, the first Singaporean millionaire sportsperson and first Singaporean sportsperson to have a published biography, Fandi has been called a national legend.[foot 1] Fandi has five children with his wife, South African model Wendy Jacobs, and his father is Ahmad Wartam, a former national goalkeeper.
Early years 
As a young child, Fandi was obsessed with football and spent much of his time kicking a ball. His family lived in two rooms in Woodbridge Hospital, and he had to sell nasi lemak to help support them. Fandi's father, Ahmad Wartam was then a goalkeeper for the national team. Fandi started playing as a goalkeeper, but was advised by a teacher to switch to midfield. When he was 12, his parents divorced, after which he lived with his father and paternal grandparents. At Serangoon Gardens Secondary School, Fandi played for the school football team, but neglected his studies and was retained. He then transferred to the Singapore Vocational Institute and obtained a National Trade Certificate 3. He played for Kaki Bukit Football Club in the amateur National Football League, where he was spotted by Singapore FA coach Sebastian Yap.
Club career 
Fandi joined Singapore FA in 1979 and became a regular midfield player, scoring four goals in his first Malaysia Cup season. The retirement of Arshad Khamis and Dollah Kassim prompted Jita Singh, the new Singapore FA coach, to play Fandi as a striker. During the 1980 Malaysia Cup season, Fandi scored eight goals, including the winning goal in the final against Selangor FA. He enlisted for National Service in September 1980 and was given light duties, such as collecting the camp garbage, so he could continue playing for Singapore FA. In 1981, Fandi won the FAS Footballer of the Year award for helping Singapore FA reach the Malaysia Cup final. The following year, Singapore FA did not play in the Malaysia Cup for political reasons, and Fandi underwent a shoulder operation; he could not play football for six weeks and was discharged early from National Service.
Selangor FA invited Fandi to play for them against Argentine club Boca Juniors in a friendly game, in which Fandi scored the only goal for Selangor FA; the score was 2–1. Fandi received offers from several Malaysia Cup teams, Indonesian side Niac Mitra, Swiss club Young Boys and Dutch side Ajax. After a three-week trial, Ajax offered Fandi a three-year contract, but Fandi instead signed a one-year contract with Niac Mitra, where he spent one season, helped them successfully defend their Galatama League title and was the third-highest scorer with 13 goals. In a friendly match between Niac Mitra and Arsenal, Fandi scored a goal in a 2–0 victory; however, he left Niac Mitra due to a sudden Galatama League ban on foreign players.
In 1983, Fandi moved to the Netherlands and signed a two-year contract with FC Groningen. A thigh injury acquired in a friendly match kept him off the field for ten weeks, but in his first Eredivisie game he scored twice in a 2–0 victory over Go Ahead Eagles. Three days later, he played in the first leg of a UEFA Cup second-round match against Italian side Internazionale, and scored the second goal in a 2–0 win, though in the second leg Groningen were defeated 1–5. The Groningen fans voted Fandi the most popular player and the most skilful player that season; he scored 10 goals in 29 games to help the Dutch club rise from ninth to fifth place in the Eredivisie. As an April Fools' Day joke, The Straits Times published a front-page story claiming that Manchester United had signed Fandi. However, his second season was marred by a recurrence of the thigh injury and a dispute with the coach. He played only two full games that season and Groningen did not offer him a new contract. During his time in the Netherlands, Fandi scored 11 league goals in 36 league games for Groningen.
The next club that Fandi played for was Malaysia Cup side Kuala Lumpur FA, which in 1987 won its first Malaysia Cup title. It was Malaysia Cup champions again the following season; Fandi won the Golden Boot, having scored 21 goals. After a third season at Kuala Lumpur FA, in which it won a third consecutive Malaysia Cup, Fandi signed a two-year contract with Greek club OFI Crete in 1990. However, problems with his International Transfer Certificate prevented him from playing for Crete, so he left Greece after two months. Fandi then joined Pahang FA, where he reverted to playing mainly in midfield due to his advancing age. Fandi missed several months of games because of heel and thigh injuries, and scored three goals to help Pahang FA win the Malaysia Cup and Malaysian League Double in 1992. That year, he also became the first Singaporean sportsperson to have career earnings exceeding a million Singapore dollars (not adjusted for inflation).
Fandi rejoined Singapore FA after it was relegated to the second tier of the Malaysian League. Singapore FA was promoted and reached the Malaysia Cup final in 1993, and finished the 1994 season as Malaysia Cup and Malaysian League champions. Captain Fandi played in 39 of Singapore FA's 41 games in the double-winning season, was the top scorer with 26 goals and was voted Player of the Season; he was also awarded a state medal, the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal). The following season, Singapore FA withdrew from the Malaysia Cup and a fully professional Singaporean league, the S.League, was formed. In its inaugural season in 1996, Fandi captained Geylang United and was the joint top scorer with 11 goals, including the equaliser that confirmed Geylang as league champions. The Asian Football Confederation declared him the Player of the Month of June 1996. Geylang was given special dispensation to pay Fandi thrice the S.League salary cap. His playing career concluded with three seasons at SAFFC, during which they won two S.League titles and two Singapore Cups. Because of injuries, Fandi was limited to mainly short substitute appearances, but he continued to score crucial goals, notably two against Cambodian side Royal Dolphins in the Asian Club Championship, until his retirement in 1999.
International career 
From 1979 to 1997, Fandi made 101 appearances for the Singapore national football team,[foot 2] scored 52 goals and earned a place in the Asian Football Confederation Hall of Fame. He started as captain of the national youth team that won the Lion City Cup in 1976 and 1977, then joined the senior national team on a tour of Russia, where he played in two friendly games and scored two goals in the second. His first senior cap came at 17 years, 3 months and 23 days, making him Singapore's youngest-ever full international, until his record was broken by Hariss Harun in 2007. However, in his first international competition, the 1979 SEA Games, Fandi did not score in four matches. He scored against India and North Korea in the Olympic Games qualifiers, but did not score in three FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. In the 1981 Ovaltine Cup, Fandi scored all Singapore goals in the 3–2 aggregate victory over Malaysia. Fandi scored a goal in a 1–2 loss to Thailand in the 1981 King's Cup and a hat-trick against the Philippines at the 1981 SEA Games. In 1992, Fandi scored twice against Nepal and once against Thailand in the King's Cup, then scored when Singapore beat Malaysia 3–1 in the Ovaltine Cup.
The following year, Fandi helped Singapore win the first of three SEA Games silver medals, with two goals in a 3–0 group stage win over Brunei and two against Malaysia in the semi-final. Despite suffering an ankle injury in the 1–2 final defeat by Thailand, he played in the 1983 Merlion Cup, and scored in a 1–0 semi-final win against of China. The second SEA Games silver medal came in 1985, when Fandi scored against Malaysia and the Philippines in the group stage, then two goals against Brunei in the semi-final. At the 1989 SEA Games, Fandi scored in the 4–0 victory over Myanmar that took Singapore past the group stages, the last-minute winner in the semi-final against defending champions Indonesia and Singapore's single goal in the 1–3 final defeat by Malaysia. This completed the hat-trick of silver medals, though in 2007, he said that "not winning the SEA Games gold medal" was among "his biggest regrets". Fandi also played at the 1990 Asian Games and scored in the 6–1 win against Pakistan.
During the 1991 SEA Games, Fandi scored both Singapore goals against Myanmar in the group stage, but was substituted in the semi-final match, after Indonesian fullback Herry Setyawan elbowed him in the eye. That match ended goalless and the Lions lost on penalties. Fandi also missed Singapore's failed attempt to qualify for the 1992 Asian Cup, having sustained a heel injury. At the 1993 SEA Games, captain Fandi scored a hat-trick in the 7–0 defeat of the Philippines, followed by the second Singapore goal in the 3–3 semi-final draw with Myanmar and scored once in the 3–1 win over Indonesia that secured a bronze medal for Singapore. Fandi also played in the inaugural Tiger Cup, and scored an equaliser against Malaysia, a goal against Brunei and two against the Philippines. 1997 was a disappointing year for Fandi, who failed to score in the Dunhill Cup and the World Cup qualifiers. After the 1997 SEA Games, where his goal in the semi-final could not prevent a 1–2 defeat to Indonesia, Fandi retired from international football.
Coaching career 
After his retirement from playing, Fandi worked as a coach. He started as the assistant to Singapore's national coach, Vincent Subramaniam, for the 1999 SEA Games, where Singapore finished fourth. In 2000, Fandi became coach of SAFFC and guided them to the S.League title, and he won the S.League Coach of the Year Award. Under Fandi, SAFFC ended the 2001 season without winning a trophy and were 2002 S.League champions by a 20-point margin. Fandi then simultaneously served as assistant national coach, helping Singapore win the Tiger Cup in 2005, and coach of the Young Lions, which rose from the bottom of the S.League in 2003 to two third-place finishes in 2004 and 2006.
In November 2006, Fandi joined Indonesian side Pelita Jaya, where he adopted a youth policy that helped them win promotion from the second division, then guided the club to two mid-table finishes in the Indonesia Super League. Fandi left Pelita Jaya in March 2010. As of 2011[update], Fandi is a scout for Italian club Vicenza Calcio, a regional project manager for the Genova International Soccer School, and runs the Fandi Ahmad Academy, which organises training programmes and overseas opportunities for talented young Singaporean footballers. Fandi is one of seven Singaporean coaches with a professional AFC coaching diploma, and is widely considered a future national coach; he declined an offer to manage the Singapore LIONSXII team in the Malaysian Super League.
Beyond football 
Fandi is a devout Muslim, avoids scandals, does not smoke or drink, and is often described as humble, filial and compassionate. He married South African model Wendy Jacobs in 1996 and the couple have five children; the eldest two are youth footballers who impressed at trials at Arsenal, Chelsea and AC Milan. He is the first Singaporean sportsperson to be the subject of a biography, which was released in 1993 and called The Fandi Ahmad Story. It sold 17,000 copies in two months and was translated into Malay.
Products Fandi has endorsed include Royal Sporting House sportswear, Uncle Tobys cereal, Carnation milk and energy drink Isomax. In 1996, he released an album of English and Malay songs and produced Meniti Pelangi, a television programme about disadvantaged Malay Singaporeans. Three years later, he opened a restaurant and a car dealership, but both closed down within two years. He has also served as an ambassador for national anti-smoking and anti-drug campaigns, raised funds for victims of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and participated in a Northeast Community Development Council initiative to organise community service programmes.
- Reliable sources have described Fandi as a "Singapore football legend", "Singapore's favourite footballing son", a "national football icon", "Singapore's most celebrated footballer", "the country's golden boy of football", "the most well known face of Singapore sport", "the best of his generation", "one of Singapore's greatest footballers ever" and "one of Asia's best players".
- Football Association of Singapore records from this period were not accepted by FIFA, so Fandi is not listed in the FIFA Century Club.
- "Fandi Ahmad Academy hopes to send youth abroad to turn professional", Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2011.
- Wang Meng Meng, "Singapore soccer through Fandi's eyes", The New Paper, 24 January 2005.
- Sanjay Nair, "Fandi unlikely to coach Singapore Lions", The Straits Times, 5 August 2011.
- "Fandi is too nice for his own good", The Sunday Times, 12 November 2006.
- Jose Raymond, "A superstar's sacred ground", TODAY, 27 June 2007.
- Santokh Singh, "Ball starts rolling to honour 4 players", The Straits Times, 29 April 1999.
- Nick Edwards, "Top Singapore soccer star espouses humility", Reuters, 17 May 1998.
- G Sivakkumaran, "Fandi named as Sivaji's assistant", The Straits Times, 7 January 2003.
- Murray Hiebert, "Singapore's soccer star takes a shine to business", Far Eastern Economic Review, 17 April 1997.
- "Fandi Ahmad's milestones", The Sunday Times, 12 November 2006.
- Yeo, pp. 9–16
- Yeo, pp. 17–22
- Yeo, pp. 23–27
- Yeo, pp. 31–34
- Yeo, pp. 35–41
- Yeo, pp. 46–49
- Yeo, pp. 54–57
- Yeo, pp. 58–61
- Yeo, pp. 64–67
- "Player profile" (in Dutch). Voetbal International. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Yeo, pp. 82–86
- Yeo, pp. 106–108
- Peter Khoo, "Fandi hits full throttle in striker's role", The Straits Times, 16 December 1992.
- "Fading star Fandi up against rising star Farid", The Straits Times, 12 November 1992.
- Peter Khoo, "The perfect end to Singapore's 14-year drought", The Sunday Times, 18 December 1994.
- Peter Khoo, "Fandi the popular choice", The Straits Times, 20 December 1994.
- Dan Guen Chin, "Fandi helps Geylang to inaugural title", The New Straits Times, 15 June 1996.
- "Singapore's Fandi Ahmad is AFC's player of the month", Agence France-Presse, 3 July 1996.
- "No medal, but Fandi will still keep on kicking", The Straits Times, 12 October 1999.
- Godfrey Robert, "I want to play", The Straits Times, 3 December 1999.
- Leonard Lim, "Lions off to winning start in Invitational opener", The Straits Times, 25 June 2007.
- Neil Morrison, "Fandi Ahmad – Century of International Appearances", Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation, 3 January 2012.
- Yeo, pp. 50–53
- Peter Khoo, "Penalty shoot-out agony for Lions", The Straits Times, 3 December 1991.
- Joe Dorai, "Lions let down by strikers, lack of fitness", The Straits Times, 28 April 1992.
- "Fandi wins Coach of the Year Award", Channel NewsAsia, 7 October 2000.
- Jeffrey Low, "You C, this is how the Warriors did it this year", The Sunday Times, 3 November 2002.
- Sharani Khamis, "This one's for you, Fandi", TODAY, 8 November 2006.
- David Lee, "Fandi's ready to help", The New Paper, 23 January 2011.
- Wang Meng Meng, "Fandi back in Singapore to take care of wife", The Straits Times, 19 March 2010.
- Yeo, pp. 146–149.
- Jamie Ee, "Wendy Jacobs may leave hospital this week", The Sunday Times, 1 March 2009.
- S Murali, "I am going to Europe", The New Paper, 14 October 2010.
- Tuminah Sapawi, "Fandi's story translated into Malay", The Straits Times, 28 October 1993.
- Li Xueying, "Well-known figures engaged by CDC to galvanise youth", The Straits Times, 29 January 2005.
- Yeo, Wilfred (1993) "The Fandi Ahmad Story", Brit Aspen Publishing, ISBN 978-981-00-4843-3