Ex-Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant arrives in Singapore for Tampines trial
SINGAPORE -- Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant says that he's learnt from his mistakes and is ready to make a fresh start with S.League club Tampines Rovers, adding that he has realistic wage demands.
Pennant was greeted by a sizeable crowd of reporters and fans when he arrived at Singapore's Changi Airport on Thursday morning.
The 32-year-old will have a one-week trial with Tampines Rovers ahead of the 2016 S.League season which begins on Feb. 12.
Pennant, who last played professionally for Wigan Athletic in the English Championship in May 2015, has had a chequered career on and off the pitch after a series of alcohol-related incidents. He served 30 days in jail for drink driving while disqualified in 2005 and was given a 12-month suspended sentence for a similar offence in 2012.
"You make many mistakes but you just have to pick yourself up and learn from them and you've got to deal with the consequences," Pennant told ESPN FC.
"I've certainly done that. But now it's all about playing football, enjoying it, doing the right things, having the right attitude, professionalism and taking care of your family too."
The ex-England under-21 player credits his wife Alice Goodwin for his improved attitude.
"I think my wife's done that ... she's made me mature," he said. "I've come on leaps and bounds but you do ... everyone does from a young age."
Pennant will link up with 2015 S.League runners-up Tampines Rovers who are hoping to play in the 2016 AFC Champions League. The first of their qualifiers is away to India's Mohun Bagan on Jan. 27.
In 2014, Pennant had a lucrative two month spell with FC Pune City in the India Super League, but said he had realistic financial expectations if he were offered a contract with Tampines.
"I've not come here for the money, obviously," he said. "The demands are not over the top. I know it's not Europe or the top end of football. They are going to pay me what they feel I'm worth."
After a similar trial with Thailand's Muangthong United last November, Pennant says that he is "in great shape." He added that he was baffled why the Thai Premier League club declined to offer him a contract.
"I don't know ... you'll have to ask Muangthong," he said. "Everyone I spoke to was shocked by the decision, they wanted to do it. But I think it was more than football ... maybe politics, I don't know. "
Pennant, who also played for Arsenal and Real Zaragoza in La Liga, is likely to celebrate his 33rd birthday in Singapore on Jan. 15, at the end of his Tampines' trial. A contract offer, he said, would be the perfect birthday present.
"It's always nice to get a contract no matter where you are but that would probably be the icing on the cake at such a good club in Singapore," he said. "It would be fantastic. I've read about it and it looks like Tampines want to mean business for next season.
"I want to excite, bring fans back, get crowds going in, make a legacy here. Try to be a star and do as much as I can for the community and for the football."