Going against the grain, degree-holders Aloysius Yap, Sudhersen Hariram and Fabian Tan chased their dreams of becoming professional footballers in the S-League.
However, the trio have since left the game in search of more viable careers elsewhere.
While all three have fond memories of their footballing lives, all hung up their boots when good job offers came along.
Until last August, Yap juggled between studying at the Singapore Institute of Management and playing for Woodlands Wellington, his third club after Balestier Khalsa and Gombak United.
Good enough to play for the elite National Football Academy, he stopped when he graduated with a degree in banking and finance, and found a job with OCBC.
"As a student, I felt very rich when I was paid $2,000 a month to play football," the 26-year-old personal banker said. "But, in the long term, reality sets in. Bank executives stand to earn more than $100,000 a year."
Sudhersen, on the other hand, already had an economics degree from the National University of Singapore when he joined Tanjong Pagar United in 2011.
Over two seasons, the right winger made about 20 S-League appearances, earning $1,500 monthly, but also took up law studies.
Now into his final year, the 27-year-old said: "If the money had been better, I might have stayed for a few more seasons. "It was tough balancing studies and training and it is not a viable career. "
Nonetheless, both Yap and Sudhersen insisted that they loved their time under the stadium floodlights.
Yap said: "I pursued my passion and my family, especially my father, were supportive. If I had any regrets, it would be that I never made it as a national player."
Tan became the first NUS undergraduate to play S-League football with the Young Lions in 2006.
Now 28, the defender stopped playing in 2010 after spells with Geylang United and Gombak to join an international trainee programme with Maersk.
The shipping giant posted him to Copenhagen last year, and he has been based there as a shipbroker since then, negotiating for European shipping companies to build ships at Asian shipyards.
"It was my childhood dream to be a professional footballer and don national colours. It had to be something special for me to leave the game," he said.
While he wished he could have made the breakthrough into the national team, Tan insisted: "I would not trade those years for anything else."
He has also qualified for the Asian Football Confederation "C" coaching licence last year, and hopes to encourage more Chinese youths to turn pro.
He said: "I hope I can provide some inspiration to young players through my journey. Other university students may go for internships or exchange programmes but I pursued my dream. I have no medals but I have no regrets."
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