Now part of the Johor FA team, former Lions star points finger at FAS, and candidly talks about wife Wendy's illness
JOHOR BARU - He will turn 50 on May 29, but the boyish good looks are still clearly evident.
He had spent over an hour yesterday afternoon barking out instructions, cajoling, encouraging and exchanging words with coach K Sukumaran, easily settling into his new role as technical advisor of second-tier Malaysian Premier League side Johor FA.
When Fandi Ahmad settled down later for a chat, the famous smile was instantly recognisable.
Although it very quickly became clear Fandi was upset, and all was not right in his world.
Speaking to TODAY, he said: "I have not been happy with the way the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) have done certain things in the past.
"But I've told myself that whatever happens, I am still a Singaporean and national interests must come first.
"So, even though I've got nothing to do with the FAS directly now, I hope I will be given the chance to take charge of a national team.
"Maybe the Singapore under-23 team for the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar or the 2015 SEA Games (which Singapore will host).
"That would be fitting for my football career."
Fandi, Singapore's most famous footballer and arguably the best player to don the national jersey, was the assistant to Singapore national coach Radojko Avramovic from 2004 to Dec 2006.
The former SAFFC coach, who led the S-League giants to two titles, left the FAS after that stint.
"To tell you the truth, I was ready to continue then. But they (the FAS) never got back to me. They only did so in March, three months later, and offered excuses like they could not contact me earlier," he said.
"How do you expect me to react. I told them I was no longer interested."
Fandi moved on.
He coached in Indonesia until 2009, then returned to form the Fandi Ahmad Academy in co-operation with SAFFC.
He was appointed coach of the H-Two-O Dream Team, a collaboration between the isotonic drinks manufacturers and the Institute of Technical Education.
He also became technical director of the Sembawang Soccer Academy last year, but recently relinquished that position.
Now, he has signed a three-year contract with Johor FA and is out to help the team gain promotion to the Malaysian Super League.
He will assist coach Sukumaran on all footballing matters, from training sessions to tactical workouts to the recruitment of players.
"Working with young players and watching them grow gives me immense satisfaction. It's the same with Johor, too. They have a bunch of young and inexperienced players and it's a challenge to keep them in the fight in the M-League," said Fandi.
Away from the football field, Fandi admitted life has not been a bed of roses, with his wife, model Wendy Jacobs, ill.
Fandi, who has five children with Wendy, said: "My wife has just been discharged from hospital today after suffering a fall at home during Chinese New Year. I was in the shower when she fell.
"In fact, she has not been really well after she suffered a seizure back in 2009 when we were living in Jakarta and I was coaching Pelita Jaya in the Indonesian Super League.
"The medical bills are mounting for me and made worse by the fact that her condition is not covered by insurance.
"But I am an optimist and I believe things will work out well for us in the end."
There is also the issue of housing.
Fandi sold his previous house when he left to take up the coaching job in Indonesia.
"I am in the process of applying to buy a HDB flat," he revealed. "But I don't have enough in my CPF savings. So things are a bit complicated."
He was Singapore's first sports millionaire, but after a number of failed business ventures, Fandi has lost much of his fortune.
The trace of bitterness was inescapable, when he said: "You see, maybe people value my football abilities more across the Causeway rather than in my own Singapore. That's why I am in Johor now and not in the employment of the FAS.
"But, I believe there are still some good people in the FAS who are willing to lend a helping hand." - (SOURCE)