Heartbroken Haiti striker Fabrice Noel dreams of gold after starting Singapore chapter

He thinks about it less than he used to, but the pain will never completely go away.
Shanghai night field

Haiti international striker Fabrice Noel is one of the new imports to Singapore’s S.League this season, playing for glamour club, Tampines Rovers, after a stint with Malaysia’s ATM FA last season.

Turning 30 in July, Noel has carved out a successful professional career after coping with the tragedy of having two of his brothers murdered in 2002 when he was a teenager at a junior tournament in the United States.

“When I call my Mum in Haiti, I think about it,” he told ESPN FC. “It affects me less now than before because it happened a long time ago. I wish I could change it but it’s already passed so I just have tried to adapt and get used to it.”

Noel was away in South Carolina in when masked gunmen entered his family’s home in Haiti. The assailants were allegedly linked to rivals of his hometown club, Racing Club Haitien, and were looking for the young striker. After the murders of his two older brothers Luckner and Kenson, his parents and younger brother went into hiding and Noel was granted political asylum in the United States.

Sitting before evening training at the Jurong West Stadium, Noel hints that he isn’t after sympathy; he just wants to get on with his career in a new country.

“What happened made me stronger in life and in general,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason. If that didn’t happen I don’t where my life would take me. Now I’m used to it. It made me grow as a person.”

Noel was born in Gressier, near Port au Prince, which has been rated as one of the most dangerous places in the world. So how did he find himself in Singapore, one of Asia’s safest cities, for the 20th season of the S.League?

Playing for ATM last season, Noel caught the eye of Singapore legend V. Sundramoorthy, who was coaching Malaysian second tier side, Negeri Sembilan and is now in charge of Tampines.

“I came to Singapore because I liked the coach [Sundram] and told me he had a job in Singapore,” he said.  “The advantage of having played for ATM is that I get used to Asian players as those from Singapore and Malaysia are similar. It makes it easier to adapt to the system.”

Noel was recommended to ATM by the club’s former St Vincent and the Grenadines striker, Marlon Alex James. James was forced into retirement after breaking down with an injury late in the 2014 season and suggested that his former Caribbean international rival fill his import slot.

“He is fast and a good dribbler and has power with both feet plus he is strong, with a great leap,” ATM head coach B. Sathianathan told ESPN FC. “He plays mostly on the flanks or as a backup striker and his important goals was one of the reasons we avoided relegation last season.”

On March 2, Noel scored on his S.League debut against Albirex Niigata (S) and he helped Tampines win their first two matches of the season. But he has since been sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Singapore is the third Asian country that Noel has lived in. He also spent a season with Shanghai East Asia in the Chinese Super League in 2010, netting 10 goals in 28 matches.

He was selected for Haiti’s March 27 friendly against China in Guangzhou, but may be ruled out because of his injury. Even so, he hopes to play in his third CONCACAF Gold Cup in July with the US and China hosting the 2015 edition.

“It’s going to be exciting because I haven’t played for the national team in a long time,” he said. “We have some players in France and Belgium now so for the Gold Cup we’ll have a strong team.”

Noel holds US citizenship after completing high school in Florida and playing for the Colorado Rapids in the MLS in 2006. When the Rapids waived him in the 2007 pre-season, he joined the Puerto Rico Islanders — who played in the American second tier — and helped them qualify for the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League, in what he considers one of his favourite football experiences.

Living in a high-rise apartment at Lakeside, near the border with Malaysia, Noel says that he’s still getting to know Singapore but marvels at the efficient public transportation system and the friendly people.

He’s set himself an S.League target of 22 goals this season – and to win as many trophies as possible. But, above all else, he just wants to keep playing football, which, he admits, helps him forget some of the tough things from his past.

“When you have a passion like football, as soon as you step on the field you forget about everything,” he said. “You focus on your team, your teammates, it helps you a lot. Football is really important to me.”

Former Herald journalist Jason Dasey is Singapore-based Senior Editor of global football website: www.espnfc上海龙凤419m 

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.