Six weeks ago, national striker Fazrul Nawaz thought he scored the gig of a lifetime, signing to play for Malaysian side Sabah FA alongside former Liverpool star El Hadji Diouf.
Today, he is jobless, sacked by the club and accused publicly by Sabah chief executive officer (CEO) TC Goh of having "disappeared".
And he is even considering quitting the game.
The 29-year-old met The New Paper yesterday and expressed his innocence.
Said Fazrul: "I didn't simply disappear.
If I did, I wouldn't be here talking to you now.
"In fact, I informed the club CEO that I would be returning to Singapore and he acknowledged my text message.
"At the moment, I cannot say much else.
But I am working with the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) to settle my issue and we will see what happens from there."
On Dec 3, Fazrul received a call from George O'Callaghan, the coach of Malaysian second-tier side Sabah, offering him the opportunity to sign as the club's fourth foreigner.
It was the same day as the Football Association of Malaysia's (FAM) deadline for clubs to register players for the upcoming season.
The lure of playing abroad alongside former English Premier League stars like Diouf and Abdoulaye Faye, plus the prestige of playing as a foreign import on a salary promised to be "almost double" of what he last earned at S.League club Home United, made the decision an easy one for Fazrul.
Within 12 hours, he had flown to Sabah and penned a deal with the club.
Fazrul enjoyed his start at the club and training with his famous teammates.
But it soon turned sour.
On Jan 10, O'Callaghan was told by the club that he would not lead the team in their friendly match against Sarawak FA in Kuching the following day.
The coach has been uncontactable since.
Later, through an outside source, Fazrul found out that some terms in his contract were not as were verbally agreed beforehand, although he refused to go into details yesterday.
According to him, the revelation even strained his relationship with his wife and stressed him no end.
So, the father of two made the decision to return to Singapore.
But before he left, he sent a message to Goh informing him he was leaving Sabah.
He showed TNP the text exchange yesterday.
Goh, however, announced to Sabah media on Jan 17 that the club sacked O'Callaghan and Fazrul for both failing to fulfil their contracts and for being "missing in action for a week".
Since he returned to Singapore, Fazrul has held meetings with FAS officials and has also been in touch with the Malaysian players' union - the Professional Footballers' Association of Malaysia - to see what he can do next.
He has become so disheartened over the experience that he is even considering quitting football to pursue a career outside sport.
This despite several S.League clubs still having spots on their roster for local players, and with the local league's kick-off still some way away on March 1.
"This whole incident has made me very upset and I don't know if I want to even continue with football as a career," said the striker.
"My morale is at an all-time low. I just hope everything works out fine."
This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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