Solid goal

Solid goal
Footballer Gabriel Quak Jun Yi (left with his mother Juet May, father Alan Quak and sister Gu Ting) started playing with a ball on family outings when he was around nine years old.

Relatively Speaking

SINGAPORE - The woman national footballer Gabriel Quak Jun Yi wants to marry in a few years sounds like a real keeper.

Ms Melissa Teo, 25, has been by his side in tough times such as when he was banned from playing for a spell after being in a mass brawl during an S-League game in 2010 between his Young Lions team and Beijing Guoan.

"She was there for me. She knows she's the one," says Quak, 23.

In fact, he reveals: "She's closer to my parents than I am."

His father, Mr Alan Quak, 56, a senior technical associate at a building consultancy, says: "She's thoughtful and considerate and we've accepted her as part of our family."

Ms Teo, who agreed to a telephone interview but declined to be photographed, says: "His parents are easy-going and it isn't difficult for me to get along with them."

Gabriel, a winger with the LionsXII squad, met Ms Teo, a marketing executive, when they were studying at Republic Polytechnic.

His mum, freelance English-language phonics teacher Juet May, 52, felt he was "mature enough" to start dating seriously even then, since their family had always talked "openly" about relationships and sex.

She adds: "I told him that if he's not ready for commitment, then he's not ready for dating."

The Quaks, who include Gabriel's younger sister Gu Ting, 17, live in a five-room Housing Board flat in Bishan.

What was Gabriel like as a boy?

Mr Quak: My parents, who live with my younger brother in their Bishan flat, looked after him in the day. They looked after him from birth till he was about six because my wife and I were working.

Mrs Quak: He ran a lot and fell a lot. My in-laws thought he had weak legs.

Mr Quak: My mother bought frogs' legs and cooked them in porridge for him. The belief was that it would strengthen his legs.

Gabriel: Maybe grandma bought the good frogs that are now helping me to run.

What was your relationship with Gabriel like when he was young?

Mr Quak: We had dinner at my parents' place before fetching him home.

Mrs Quak: I read and played with him. On weekends, we took him out with friends whose kids were of his age.

Gabriel started playing football seriously while studying at Guangyang Secondary School. When did he start to show his athletic inclination?

Mr Quak: When he was about nine or 10, we always had a ball with us when we went to Bishan Park on weekends to cycle. When he was in Primary 6 in Catholic High Primary, one of his schoolmates approached my wife to let him join the school team. That was when his flair showed.

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