A 25-year partnership

BOND: Sports journalist David Lee and Fandi Ahmad flipping through a copy of Singapore Raw: 25 Stories From 25 Years Of News, Emotion, Wow.

SINGAPORE - He was on the cover of The New Paper's very first edition in 1988.

More than 25 years later, he's still making news in the pages of this newspaper.

Singapore's football icon, Fandi Ahmad, undoubtedly shares a special relationship with TNP, which has chronicled his every move for the past 25 years.

From his journey as a young player to his rise to fame to his current stint as LionsXII coach, Fandi's story is one of many featured in a new book, Singapore Raw: 25 Stories From 25 Years Of News, Emotion, Wow.

"Wow. Has it been 25 years already?" said Fandi, 52, when we visited his home earlier this week to hand him an advance copy of the book.

"I'm amazed that you all still want to write about me.

"I'm thankful to be part of this book. These 25 years have been a journey not just for me, but for The New Paper as well. You've kept up with me through the good and bad times."

BUSY

Today, Fandi is still busy.

Coaching activities take up most of his weekdays as he goes into the office in the morning and spends his evenings coaching the LionsXII players.

As ambassador for the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and H-TWO-O, he also has to attend various engagements throughout the week.

Weekends are usually spent with his wife and their children - watching movies, having a meal or going for a drive.

His wife, 39-year-old Wendy Jacobs, who conducts etiquette classes at ITE, flew to Chile last Friday with sons Irfan, 17, and Ikhsan, 15, to help them with paperwork and to settle in.

Both boys are there to study and join the youth academy of a Chilean football club.

This means Fandi has taken over his wife's duties - ferrying sons Ilhan, 12, and Iryan, 8, to and from school, various tuition classes and other appointments.

Daughter Iman, 14, is in the Singapore Sports School and goes home only on weekends.

Fandi spoke of the fond memories he shared with TNP and with certain sports reporters who have followed him closely throughout the years.

He also commended the paper for being the go-to newspaper for local sports news and for helping to promote Singapore sports.

He said: "The New Paper has supported the local sports industry. You've really managed to rally fan support for local football.

"Sports brings people together.

"I hope this partnership I have with TNP will go on for another 25 years. Hopefully, I'll still be around."

JOY

TNP sports journalist David Lee, who interviewed Fandi for the book, said: "Although TNP has chronicled 25 years of his life, it was still a joy and privilege to write about Fandi.

"This will help future generations learn about and remember this true Singaporean legend who emerged from the kampung to bring an entire nation of fans to their feet."

TNP 25TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK LAUNCH

Love and hate, joy and despair, sacrifice and loss are themes of the stories in Singapore Raw: 25 Stories From 25 Years Of News, Emotion, Wow.

The book, to commemorate The New Paper's 25th anniversary, chronicles some of the paper's most memorable stories over the years.

Stories like the Wilson Raj "kelong saga", the murder of little Huang Na, the sex exploits of Annabel Chong, and the heroic story of Heng Yeow Peow, the selfless foreman in the Nicoll Highway collapse, are retold and updated.

TNP's initiatives like The New Face and The Big Walk are also chronicled in the book, which is designed to look like the newspaper.

Book designer Jacqueline Wu said: "The book is of the same size as the newspaper. Its spine is specially designed to look like a stack of newspapers."

The 80-page hardcover book will go on sale at all major bookstores from Friday at $25 (including GST).

tantam@sph.com.sg


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