In a stunning turn of events last night during the post match press conference, Home United Coach Lee Lim Saeng has revealed that he has shelved all plans to include John Wilkinson in his playing squad anymore, after a series of events where Wilkinson allegedly insulted him.
Just when the conference was about to end last night at the Bishan Stadium, Coach Lee Lim Saeng suddenly asked, “Why didn’t you ask about John Wilkinson?” and followed, “I saw an article outside the office about something he said after the match with SAFFC (the 3-0 loss). Within the club, if there is any wrong or problem with me and players criticize me, I will accept it but only if the things you criticize really happen! His attitude and behavior in the team, after the 3-0 loss to SAFFC we got hurt and we think John should take this kind of hurt too. If John did say something that was not true, he will be out of the squad.”
Lee: “Wilkinson insulted me”
Coach Lee’s face turned to anger, as he recalled some bad experiences with him, saying, “Before the season I didn’t know John but gave him a contract because we felt that he had good credentials. I tried to respect him. The first time we met at a practice game, he shouted at me, ‘Coach, take him out!’ I talked to him at the hotel, and told him he cannot do that again. He said to me ‘F*** off’. He never followed my instructions so I took him out. I cried in my heart, he insulted me. I played in the (South Korean) national team for 10 years and I didn’t come here for money. I want to protect my children and give them proper education!”
His jaw shook as he spoke and with teary eyes he said, “I like Home United. Sometimes players don’t like me, I ignore. I shout at my children too. I try to develop Singapore football. I don’t know about John’s future, the chairman decides. If I had wronged him, I go back. Sometimes I make a team with the players I want, but at the end of the season we don’t get the result. This is football and with the salary cap in the S-League, it is problematic.”
I will respect club’s decision
He followed, “Players can say, talk. If we made a mistake or did something wrong, the club can check. If I did wrong, it’s a club’s job to sack me. Let’s say Mendy, Qiu Li cannot score for seven, eight games. If they are negative, he will change their attitude. Even now, I am trying to adapt to the culture of the S-League. Early season before the AFC Cup, our aim was to be champion. Somebody didn’t agree and even if we didn’t, it was important to do our best. If we cannot become the league champion this year, we will keep trying. If the club and players don’t agree with me at the end of the season, I will respect their decision.”
Team manager S. Mahalingam clarified after the press conference that he has indeed received an official complaint from Assistant coach Baek Jong Seok and will launch an internal investigation on the matter, with John Wilkinson not being available for selection – although he is not suspended.
John Wilkinson joined Home United this year from Thai Premier League outfit Police United and has 29 caps to his name after attaining Singaporean citizenship. The midfielder also had stints at Exeter City, Woodlands Wellington, Geylang United and was part of SAFFC’s title winning squad from 2006 to 2009.