|TNP PICTURE: KUA CHEE SIONG|
He had an offer from Oman which paid 50 percent more, but Nenad Bacina turned it down to return to the S-League.
The reason - he had given his word to Hougang United's management.
The day he was supposed to sign on the dotted line for the Cheetahs, Al-Nahda offered him a contract with significant better terms, but the former two time S-League winner decided on principle to seal his Singapore return.
Said the former Warriors defender: "I'll be honest with you, initially I was looking for a job in Indonesia but negotiations with a few clubs didn't work out.
"Then I got and offer from Hougang's management and decide to accept it. The day before I was to sign the contract, I got an offer from Oman.
"I told the Hougang management about it and even e-mailed them them the contract offer, but I assured them that since I promised to join Hougang I would, even if Al-Nahda offered more."
And that's a gesture which Hougang chairman Bill Ng found "touching".
Ng added that he decided to revamp his team both in the playing and coaching departments despite last season being their most successful ever.
They finished seventh in the league last season - their highest finish and they reached the first cup final in the League Cup, losing narrowly on penalties to Albirex Niigata.
However, it was not a good season off the field. In May, they were involved in a pre-match fracas which saw their match against Etoile called off before the opening whistle.
The in October, then-club captain Shariff Samad sent a chair hurtling through the dugout after being sent off against Gombak United. He was then banned for the rest of the season.
Shariff along with other stalwarts such as Mohd Nor Ali, Fathi Yunus and coaching team of Aide Iskandar and his assistant Hasrin Jailani have all since left the club.
Said Ng: "After the one plus one events, I decided we needed a fresh landscape.
"And I knew after interviewing Nenad that he could provide that and we shared a common vision."
While Ng is adamant that there can be no repeat of off-pitch lows of last season, he is challenging his team to better their impressive on-field exploits from last season.
He said:" Without a doubt, we want to better last season's results and I'm confident that we can achieve that."
When asked if he could emulate the acheivements of his predecessor Aide, Bacina said:" Definitely it won't be an easy job. The hardest thing in football is to recreate success, but that is what we will be aiming for."
This will be Bacina's second stint as an S-League coach. In 2009, the 40-year-old led a cash strapped Woodlands Wellington to ninth place out of 11 teams.
This term, he has brought two of his Croatian compatriots - playmaker Ante Barac and centre-back Stanislav Vidakovic.
Around 10 of Hougang's players from last season remain, including Mamadou Diallo and Jordan Webb, who was one of the S-League's leading lights last season.
But it's not just the Cheetahs who have been freshening their team ahead of the projected start of the season next month.
The management merry-go-round has seen Darren Stewart making a homecoming to his old stomping ground of Balestier Khalsa together with assistant Kevin Wee.
Filling the Australian's place in Gombak United is former Tampines under-18 coach K Balagumaran.
Meanwhile, Balestier's head coach last season Salim Moin left the club and headed north to Woodlands Wellington.
Incumbent head coach R Balasubramaniam has since been dismissed with Salim being handed the reins as caretaker coach at the Rams. SOURCE - THE NEWPAPER