A player dubbed the world’s richest footballer lived in modest digs and wore casual clothes during his time in English footballer.
The name Faiq Bolkiah will be unfamiliar to most fans but the former Chelsea and Arsenal youngster has an incredible backstory. Bolkiah, now 25 and playing in the Thai league, is a nephew of the Sultan of Brunei and is one of several heirs to a £200billion fortune.
Born in Los Angeles, Bolkiah moved to the UK and grew up in leafy Berkshire, quickly falling in love with football. After spells at Southampton, Reading and Arsenal, he moved to Chelsea, playing alongside the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham in the Blues’ youth ranks.
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One of his team-mates at Chelsea was Ruben Sammut, who described Bolkiah as one of the boys who never boasted about his background. He told The Athletic: “You would never ever have thought he was something like the 12th in line to the throne. You would not have thought of him as royalty.
“He was a humble guy, trying every day like every academy player. We used to joke he didn’t need to play football but he wanted to play because he loved football.
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“It wasn’t a regular thing we mentioned. It was that typical banter, saying he is royalty, saying, ‘What’s he doing playing with us?’ But we all knew deep down how much he wanted to play, so it was more good-willed passing comments.
“We don’t know the ins and outs of the wealth of his family but he took football seriously, so full credit to him. He lived in digs like everyone else. I can’t remember who with.
“He just came in with the boy he was in digs with. This would have been age around 16-18, youth team group. We lived in digs, walking distance to the training ground. He didn’t do the schooling.
“It was youth team full-time training and stayed with a host family. He was just humble, he never wore flash clothes or came in flash gear, he just wore a tracksuit, just a down-to-earth guy. I think he did it so he didn’t draw attention to himself. He knew if he was splashing the cash, it would create a bad image for himself.”
Following the expiry of his Chelsea contract, Bolkiah reportedly had a trial at Stoke before moving to Leicester City in 2016, just as the Foxes were winning the Premier League. Bolkiah played in Leicester’s U18 and U23 sides but failed to break through into the first-team.
After four years with the Foxes, he moved on to Maritimo in Portugal before switching closer to his royalty in Thailand, playing for Chonburi and then current club Ratchaburi.
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