1st S'pore-born footballer to sign for EPL club applied to renounce S'pore citizenship to 'evade NS': Mindef

He is also staying overseas without a valid Exit Permit, according to Mindef.

Syahindah Ishak | October 29, 2021, 01:27 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/mothershipsg

Harry Birtwistle, 17, became the first Singapore-born footballer to sign for an English Premier League (EPL) club.

Birtwistle, who is of both Singaporean and British descent, signed a professional contract with Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) on Wednesday (Oct. 27).

Applied to renounce his Singapore Citizenship

On Friday (Oct. 29), the Singapore Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said Birtwistle's parents had applied to renounce his Singapore citizenship.

According to Mindef, Birtwistle is a Singapore citizen who had stayed in Singapore. He also carried a Singapore passport.

Under Singapore's Enlistment Act, all male Singaporeans are required to serve national service (NS) at age 18 or older.

Mindef said Birtwistle's applications were rejected as "renunciation should not be used as a means to evade NS duties".

Birtwistle's family had stated that he will not be registering for NS, according to Mindef.

Since then, Birtwistle has failed to register for NS as required.

Staying overseas without valid exit permit

Birtwistle is also staying overseas without a valid exit permit, Mindef said.

The ministry added: "Birtwistle has committed offences under the Enlistment Act."

Born to Singaporean mother and British father

According to The Straits Times, Birtwistle was born in Singapore to a Singaporean mother and British father.

He stayed in Singapore until he was 13. He then moved to England to be an EPL player.

In a media interview after his contract-signing with Wolves, Birtwistle was asked if he wanted to play for the Singapore national football team.

He replied, as reported by ST: "I’m open to anything, but right now I’m putting all of my focus to my club."

To play for the Singapore national team, Birtwistle has to give up his British passport and enlist for NS in Singapore.

Birtwistle also said in a media statement, according to ST:

"I'm so honoured to be standing here today as a Singapore-born professional footballer at a Premier League club. Hopefully, this can inspire others after me who don't believe they can do it."

Follow and listen to our podcast here:

Top images via Harry Birtwistle/IG.