Topping football’s rich list ahead of Al-Nassr new boy Cristiano Ronaldo should give you a care-free life – but Faiq Bolkiah’s love of the game means he has one regret about his career
Faiq Bolkiah trumps Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s richest footballer – but he still has one major regret about his career.
While Ronaldo has signed a mega-money deal worth in the region of £450million with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr, which could take his net worth to over £1billion, Bolkiah is way out in front on football’s rich list.
The 24-year-old has royal ties as the nephew of the Sultan of Brunei and is estimated to be worth upwards of £20bn. Despite his mega wealth, Bolkiah decided to pursue his dream of mixing it with the likes of Ronaldo.
Having been sent to England for education by his dad Jefri, who is a prince in their oil-rich home country, he fell in love with the beautiful game and joined a local team.
A keen for eye for goal saw scouts pick up on him and in 2009 he joined Southampton’s academy. But it didn’t work out for him on the south coast.
He joined an under-16s side including the likes of Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, which provided stiff competition but limited his minutes and led him to seek a new club.
Interest came from West Ham and Stoke City before Bolkiah chose Leicester as his next destination. He spent three years on their books but ultimately failed to secure a pro deal and left in 2019.
It was then that he was at a crossroads in his life, with his background quickly gaining attention on social media. “I had about three or four offers after Leicester,” he told Main Stand.
Bolkiah opted to head to Portugal and joined top flight club Maritimo. But after he was palmed off to their lower-league B team, he felt he’d been duped and taken advantage of due to his media image.
“Maritimo said to me ‘you’ll come here, you’ll play’ so I said ‘I just want to be here for a year. The main thing for me is I want to play.’ Obviously, that didn’t happen,” he continued.
“I definitely regret moving there. I feel like there was a lot of politics to do with it as well, why Maritimo wanted me. I didn’t feel like they were being fully honest.”
Bolkiah cut his losses and left the club barely a year after joining, though he did take some positives from the experience. He added: “It definitely made me stronger.
“It definitely made me work harder and keep my head down. That didn’t change for sure. But I definitely made the right decision to leave.
“I had another two years left on my contract there. They changed presidents at the time, I went in there and they understood my situation. It wouldn’t have done me or the club any good for me to be there longer.”
Bolkiah, who has made six appearances for the Brunei national team, is now back to doing what he loves for Thai side Chonburi, having moved closer to home in December 2021 as he looked for regular minutes again.
And he scored his first goal for them in November to secure a 1-0 victory and send them into the mid-season break second in the table.