'Missing' S-League goalie turns up on Manhunt
Former footballer Muhammad Siddiq Durimi, who vanished under a mountain of debts, is back in the limelight - as one of this year's 20 Manhunt finalists. -TNP
After dropping off the radar in March last year amid controversy, former Home United reserve goalkeeper Muhammad Siddiq Durimi, 24, has resurfaced as a Manhunt contestant.
Now a freelance technician, Siddiq was dropped from the team and the S-League after missing several weeks of training last year.
"I was facing a lot of personal problems at the time," he told The New Paper.
It was reported then that he had run into problems with moneylenders after being unable to repay his debts.
Home United general manager S. Mahalingam said the team gave him $6,500 to settle his debts last year.
He did, but then took up two more loans. Siddiq told TNP that he borrowed the money to pay off "huge" fines he had incurred for illegal modifications to his motorcycle. Altogether, he took up five loans, but said he could not remember how much he owed in total.
Siddiq did not show up for training in March 2011, and Mr Mahalingam said the club had not been able to contact him since, except for one instance on March 17, despite multiple calls to his mobile phone and visits to his home.
The ex-player still owes the club $5,318, Mr Mahalingam said.
He added that Siddiq was earning about $2,000 at Home United, and felt that the player "had potential" before he did his vanishing act.
Although the club general manager said Siddiq could not be contacted and was surprised when told of his former player's participation in Manhunt, Siddiq claimed that he had been in Singapore for most of the past year.
He said he lives with his family at their Jurong West home, except for the few times he had to travel to places like South Korea as part of his work as a freelance ship technician.
He took up the job on the recommendation of his older brother because "it paid a lot more" than his stint as a football player.
Siddiq started his football career in Home United's under-16 team in 2004, then joined the National Football Academy's under-18 team.
He has played for both Geylang United and Home United, and was part of Singapore's Asian Games squad in 2010 as a back-up for Izwan Mahbud.
He took up mechanical technology at ITE Simei, but quit his studies after just four months.
He also took up freelance jobs, such as an external building cleaner and a baggage handler at the HarbourFront Cruise and Ferry Terminal, but they were few and far between.
Siddiq said he could not repay his loans because his earnings went towards footing his own bills when he was jobless for four to five months at a stretch.
His godsister suggested he join Manhunt, saying that organiser Beam Artistes was looking for male models.
With nothing to lose, Siddiq decided to go for a meeting with Beam only to find out that it was an audition for Manhunt.
His only pageant experience was Cleo magazine's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors contest in 2010. "I was surprised, but I thought I'd try anyway," he said.
He was reluctant to say whether he would return to football, but Mr Mahalingam said Siddiq cannot play for another club because Home United are holding on to his transfer certificate until he repays his debts.
"Yes, I do miss football. I still play sometimes with my friends," he said.
While the cash component of Manhunt's top prize would help his financial situation, Siddiq said he is not confident of winning.
"I don't want to dream that I can win," he said.
He added that he had not anticipated the amount of publicity he would get by joining Manhunt. "I didn't think that there would be news coverage of it," he said.
He admitted the media attention had him "worried". "I might back out (of Manhunt)," he said.
Mr Mahalingam added that the club intends to pursue the matter and recoup its loan to Siddiq.
"We do want our money back," he said.
This year's Manhunt winner gets cash and prizes totalling $25,000, a two-year contract with Beam Artistes and a one-year membership with True Fitness gym.
The finals will be held at Avalon on Sept 7
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