Johor Crown Prince makes special trip to S'pore to convince LionsXII captain

Johor Crown Prince makes special trip to S'pore to convince LionsXII captain

When royalty beckons, it is hard to say no.

Last Thursday, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail made the short trip across the Causeway and agreed terms with LionsXII skipper Shahril Ishak at the Fullerton Hotel.

The 29-year-old confirmed he will play for the Johor FA in the second-tier Malaysian Premier League (MPL) for the next two seasons.

But what convinced Shahril to move north wasn't so much about the Johor Crown Prince's personal touch than it was about the ambitions of the state.

"The Crown Prince shared with me the ambitious plans he has for football in Johor and I'm excited to be part of this project," said Shahril.

"After (Johor Darul Takzim, MSL side) signed big names like Daniel Guiza and Pablo Aimar, Johor football is now recognised in world football.

"The two clubs want to be among the biggest and most professional clubs in South-east Asia."

Shahril is not about to let slip another chance to challenge himself overseas.

Earlier this year, he had turned down Bangkok Glass' offer to continue playing for the LionsXII.

Shahril said: "I'm not saying it (staying with the LionsXII) was a mistake.

"I want to thank the FAS for the opportunity to lead the team, and the fans for their great support.

"I have given 100 per cent for the LionsXII and it is a special achievement to win my first league title with a fully Singaporean team.

"But the fact is, there were no offers from Thailand this season and I may never have another chance to challenge myself in a strong league like the Thai Premier League.

"It really is hard to say goodbye, but an opportunity like this may not come again."

It is understood the reigning ASEAN Footballer of the Year will earn twice his previous LionsXII salary.

Shahril hopes that the "market price" for Singaporean footballers will increase as more players such as Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan and himself attract big-money deals abroad.

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