Faiq Bolkiah a Bruneian at heart
Bandar Seri Begawan: England-based winger Faiq Bolkiah has stressed there was never any chance he would choose to play for the United States of America ahead of Brunei Darussalam despite repeated attempts to encourage him to commit his future to the land of his birth.
Faiq, who is currently on the books of English Premier League champions Leicester City, represented Brunei at the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia earlier this month, and told the-AFC.com there was never any prospect of pledging his allegiance to the United States.
“That would never have happened,” said the Los Angeles-born 18-year-old of attempts to entice him to play for the Americans. “I’ve already spoken to my family about this and it was never going to happen.
“To this day, they are trying to contact me non-stop, for many years already, but we’ve had to stamp down on it. I can’t play for them.”
Faiq, who is a nephew of the Sultan of Brunei, signed a three-year contract with Leicester earlier this year after stints in the youth teams at Chelsea and Southampton, and has played for his country at the under-23 and senior level, captaining the team twice at the AFC Solidarity Cup.
“I feel that I’m a Bruneian,” he said. “My dad’s Bruneian, my mum’s Bruneian, so just because I was born there doesn’t make me American. I want to play for Brunei. That’s why I don’t think I could play for any other country. Brunei is the only country that I will play for.”
After spending two years as a member of Chelsea’s academy, Faiq was released by the London club earlier this year before being offered a contract by Leicester City’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in May.
And while the club’s South East Asian ownership played a role in him joining Leicester, Faiq is quick to point out the club from England’s East Midlands had been following his progress for several years before finally taking him on board.
“It was a football decision, but with Leicester being owned by South East Asians, they were excited about me coming to the club and they saw the potential,” said Faiq.
“They were watching me since I was (on trial) at Arsenal when I was 14 or 15 years old, and then I signed for Chelsea. But before that they wanted to sign me. So they found the opportunity.
"They heard I was a free agent and I was looking around to see what clubs were open and that’s when they came in. I met with the owners and they told me what they wanted to do and how the club would go forward.”
Few players with South East Asian connections have made an impact in European football, but Faiq is hoping joining Leicester will allow him to make the step towards playing for the club’s first team in the coming seasons.
“They’re pushing youngsters,” he said of Leicester’s plans for the future. “I don’t know about this year, but in the future they’re looking to push players into the first team. So I’m keeping my head down and when the time is right I need to impress."