It has been a whirlwind adventure for Curran Lawrence Singh Ferns since he decided up sticks and move to Malaysia back in 2015. From appearing for Brisbane City in the NPL Queesland to Johor Darul Ta’zim II in the Malaysia Premier League was the start of the career progression that Curran was searching for.
Born to a mixed parentage of an Australian father and Malaysian mother, Curran soon got his Malaysian passport that allowed him to be registered as a local player in Malaysia. Six months into his time with JDTII, Negeri Sembilan came calling and it was there that Curran’s performance started to catch the eye of interested clubs.
Felda United were the ones who eventually won him over with their offer and Curran spent the 2017 season and half of the 2018 season with The Fighters but the lure of taking the next step in his career was too big for him to say no.
On June 8 2018, Thai club Sukhothai FC announced that they have captured the signature of Curran to fill their ASEAN slot quota and perhaps it was pure coincidence but the move saw Curran swapping the orange of Felda for the orange of Sukhothai.
“There were interests from several clubs in Thailand before season started but we couldn’t get it done in time. The day before Felcra (June 2) game, there were a few phone calls,” said Curran in an exclusive interview with Goal. “But I brushed it off because I wasn’t sure whether it serious or not because I haven’t seen any paper work. Hafizan (MVP Sports Agency) told me it was serious. It was all done in 24 hours. Felda agreed the move and amazingly all that happened on a Sunday.”
“I want to play at highest level possible and as well to play for the Malaysia national team. If I can do well in Thailand, my realistic goal is maybe to play in Japanese. Japanese clubs with their connection in Thailand might have a look. I set that the Thai League as a goal and some people laughed but I’m here today.”
Like any professional footballer, Curran is also keeping one eye closely on the international front. Having gained a Malaysian passport, Curran has constantly expressed his desire to one day don the Harimau Malaya jersey but that hasn’t happened just yet.
The midfielder is acutely aware of the stiff competition to secure a place in national team but knows he at the very least on the radar of the Tan Cheng Hoe and his coaching staff. Curran was supposedly earmarked to be called up to the last camp where Malaysia faced off against Mongolia, Syria and Bhutan but ultimately is left still waiting for the call.
Having taken over the head coach duties from Eduardo Vingada, Tan is building the team ahead of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup tournament later this year and that squad is what Curran is hoping to be part of with this latest move.
“That’s my main goal, to get that phone call. I had a strong season last year and this season as well. That’s what I want to do. I want to play for Malaysia, play at the highest level and win things.
“Hopefully playing in Thailand will help me to be recognised internationally and to break into the national team. I was in Felda and we were undefeated, still not getting recognised. Not just me, other players too.”
Earlier this season, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Insa joined Bangkok Glass but it was a short-lived stay for the younger brother of Ignacio ‘Natxo’ Insa and the former has since signed for Johor Darul Ta’zim. Kiko was only bit part player with the Thai League 1 club and that experience may have put off players from even considering a move north of the border.
There were also previous inclinations that among the other reasons why Malaysian players are not so keen to move to Thailand is because of the comparatively lower wage and it was something that Curran confirmed to be true as well.
“I’m just here to focus on myself. I’ve heard different stories but I dont' know what the whole picture is. I know Kiko personally and he’s true professional. But sometimes a player needs to be in a right environment and maybe that wasn’t. I’m here to help the team the best I can. It’s not about proving to Thais that Malaysians can play because everyone knows that.
“The money is better in Malaysia. At Felda, everyone is on a good salary. Across the whole league, Thailand do pay well but you’re not gonna get stupid money. I’m 24, I’m not here to cash in. If you go for the big money but don’t play, then you’re done. If I have to take a bit less money to get to my goal, I’m taking it.
“Obviously English here isn’t used as much as it is in Malaysia. But the coach (Yannawit Khantharat) spent time in the UK (United Kingdom) and speaks good English. Thais are beautiful people, if they can’t understand you, they still try to communicate. For me, I’ll need to adapt to their culture and try to learn a bit of the language.”
Even though he will be playing for different club now with new team mates, stadium and an entirely different league; Curran is not one to forget those that helped him along the way and his time with Felda is one that he truly cherishes.
He only has his praise for B. Sathianathan, the coach he worked under for the best part of 18 months. Another notable member of The Fighters that is high on his respect list is influential former national team captain, Shukor Adan.
“The biggest help for me was Sathia. He took me under his wing. We have a fantastic relationship. He’s a great figure and mentor. He’s helped me not see the game in the Malaysian way. It’s not easy.
“Having him and Shukor in the side, we have a very experienced team and on match day I’m sometimes the youngest. With Sathia, you can win 6-2 and he’s still not happy because we conceded 2. He always believed in me in day one. He believed that I can play at a higher level. He’s a perfectionist,” added Curran.
Sukhothai finished 15th in the Thai League 1 last season and are now sitting in 11th spot in the 2018 season after the completion of the half of the season. Curran only just missed the registration deadline cut-off time when he signed and missed out on his team’s 4-0 away defeat to Chiangrai United.
However after a few training sessions with the team under his belt now, Curran will be available for selection for Sukhothai’s Thai League Cup encounter against Port FC on June 13 before a possible first home game of him when his club welcomes the visit of Chonburi FC on June 16.