Wolves teenager could face jai...


Wolves teenager could face jail in Singapore for evading national service

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Harry Birtwistle's signing of professional terms with Wolves has led indirectly to talk of prison in Singapore. 

The 17-year old has been with Wolves since 2017, having been spotted as an 8-year old by academy staff at a training camp in Singapore.

Birtwistle was born in Singapore to an English father and Singaporean mother, and became the first player from the country to sign for a Premier League club.

On Friday, his father was forced into denying his son wanted to renounce his Singaporean citizenship.

The country's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) claimed earlier this week that Birtwistle was overseas without "a valid exit permit" and was seeking to avoid national service as required.

All male Singapore citizens are required to serve national service aged 18, or older. Should he return to Singapore,

"From the beginning of 2017, I asked Mindef for deferment of national service, if necessary, pending renunciation of his Singapore citizenship when Harry turns 21 years old," said Birtwistle's father, John.

"Retaining his UK passport and British citizenship are essential to pursue a professional football career in the EPL, given the revised points-based work permit stringent requirements applicable post-Brexit on all non-UK citizens.

"However, Harry himself has has never wanted to renounce his citizenship nor intentionally skip national service."

"As a father, I have only wanted the best for my son and I think many parents will understand," he added.

"[I] chose to relocate Harry to my homeland England to chase his football dream and also to get to know his family there. But Singapore is where Harry’s heart is, where he was born and raised during those formative early years.

"Harry is making a big personal sacrifice, and the outcomes and achievements to date may well have justified the decisions made."

Birtwistle could face jail and a fine of Sg$10,000 (€6,400) if he returns to Singapore.

Greeting the signing of his professional contract, Wolves technical director Scott Sellars said, "Harry’s shown a lot of commitment since he came to us from Singapore because it was a massive change in his life. But it shows the type of character Harry is, not only as a footballer but as a person.

“There are not many children who would do something like he did at that age, but his desire to be a footballer is of great credit to him.

"He’s always had a lot of respect from the staff at the academy because of his attitude and having made those sacrifices as a young boy."

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