When Southern released the news that young Kitchee starlet Emmet Wan had joined the club on loan for the season, local football fans could have been forgiven for thinking that the Aberdeen-based side had made one of the coups of the summer. Still only 23 years old and already having been selected for the Hong Kong U23 national team, he has produced some eye-catching performances that makes it easy to see why Southern boss Ricky Cheng wanted to add him to his squad so much. Emmet Wan kindly spoke to Jeff Hardbattle on his new team for the season, his future aspirations and his experiences in Hong Kong football.
How are you finding life at Southern this season? Has it been easy to gel into the squad?
Life is great. I was given a chance to play regularly under Ricky Cheng, who I’ve been with since I started in Hong Kong so I jumped at the opportunity. Yes it’s like a big family. We all get on well with each other and nearly all the players were at different teams last season, which made it easier to get to know everyone.
Southern have of course secured solid sponsorship deals with Kwoon Chung and more recently Isuzu. With this in mind, what aspirations do the team have for this season and do you yourself have any personal goals?
We want to win and do the best we can. Personally I want to play as many games as possible and hopefully make my senior team debut with the national team. I always want more, I want to play at the highest level I can.
Southern coach Ricky Cheng seems to prefer deploying you in a more defensive role than when you played with Kitchee. Is this something that you see yourself continuing in the long term?
That’s actually always been my preferred position but at Kitchee I played more of a attacking role due to Huang Yang being the defensive midfielder. He’s brilliant so I didn’t have to worry about defending.
You’ve obviously had quite a lot of experience in Hong Kong now, but you’ve also spent time in South Africa playing for Cape United. What was your experience like playing out there?
Fantastic. It was a brand new academy with Roald Poulsen as head coach. He taught me how to be a professional and I improved a lot under him. Being away from my family was difficult at first but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get the best out of this opportunity so I could play professionally. On top of all that Cape Town’s a great city and I had an amazing time.
You’ve had a lot of great moments to savour in your career already, and many people will recall the goal you scored against Chonburi FC in the AFC Champions League. What’s been your most memorable moment to date?
You always remember your first professional goal so that probably is the best moment so far. I do have a few that are up there but being the first Kitchee player to score in that tournament is an amazing feeling. I always have a laugh with the Kitchee lads about it. It nearly didn’t happen though. I got food poisoning a day before we were set to fly. I phoned Chino (Roberto Losada) the night before and said I couldn’t make it, but he told me that even if I had to be carried to Thailand, I’d have to go. I’m so happy I did, otherwise I would have never scored that goal.
You mentioned previously that you’re aim is to break into the Hong Kong national team. With the recent surge in nationalised players being selected, how much of a difficult task do you see this being?
I don’t really think about that too much. If I’m playing my best and performing at club level week in week out, I will get my chance to prove myself in the national team. I just focus on improving on all aspects of my game and developing in the gym.
Finally, we’ve noticed through our research that you’re quite the singer! Will we be seeing you on a world tour any time soon?!
Haha, who knows! Football is my greatest passion but music is definitely second. If the world tour happens I’ll be sure to send you guys some tickets!
Southern are next in action this weekend when they take on Yuen Long FC away at Yuen Long Stadium. The match will kick off at 5:30pm with tickets being priced at $80 for adults and $30 for concessions. For more information on Southern, you can check our club page for the team here.