Ex-Northampton Town striker Savage is loving life in Thailand
Premier League champions Manchester United may be attracting all the attention in Bangkok this week, but there is another Englishman who has been plying his trade in the Thai capital for rather longer - and he used to play for the Cobblers!
Bas Savage would be regarded as a journeyman professional.
His 229 career appearances in England came at 10 clubs, spanning nine and a half years.
By the time the Wandsworth-born forward was at Northampton Town in 2011, Savage was a bit fed up.
He had fallen out with then Cobblers boss Gary Johnson and his career seemed on a downward spiral, destined to be remembered mainly for a series of superb hairstyles that can be found with a quick flick through Google and a trademark moonwalk goal celebration.
It was then he recalled the advice of old friend Zesh Rehman, who came back with a high opinion of the country after a year at Muangthong United.
So he picked up the phone and rang Thailand.
“I don’t have any kids, so I thought ‘why not’,” said Savage.
“Realistically, the alternative was going to be somewhere like Accrington, where I might get a couple of months to prove myself.
“At the age of 30, I felt I needed a bit more, so I came out to Bangkok and luckily enough managed to earn myself a contract.”
One year at Thai Premier League outfit TOT SC has now become two.
And whilst there are some cultural differences he still struggles to come to terms with - applauding opposition fans as a matter of course after games and swapping shirts after the most mundane of matches - there is no sense of Savage feeling he has made a bad choice.
“There are so many lower league players in the same situation in England now,” he said.
“The opportunities are just not there, so I didn’t feel I had that much to lose.
“For the first few months it was a struggle.
“It was clear they thought the game should be played in a different way to how I was used to and the communication problems made it 10 times worse.
“In the end, I decided just to let my football do the talking and when you get used to it, the standard is not as bad as people might think.
“Technically the players are very good and the overall level continues to improve.
“Where they do struggle is with the tactical side and maybe thinking about the game in a strategic way.”
There can be no doubting the passion Thais have for the sport, with decent crowds turning out for league matches, not just the arrivals of United and Chelsea, who take on the Singha All Stars on July 17, seven days after they provide the opposition for David Moyes’ first game in charge of the Red Devils.
“They love their football over here,” said Savage.
“Far more families come to games than we would have in England; lots of mums with their kids.
“That is the reason both sets of players applaud both sets of fans after a match.
“Somehow I can’t see that catching on in the Premier League.”