A Malaysian football club has made a rare signing of an ex-English Premier League star by snapping up Dutch midfielder George Boateng, an official said Monday.
The Titans, based in the eastern state of Terengganu, sealed the deal with the 37-year-old former Middlesbrough captain ahead of next year's campaign, said Rozi Mamat, youth and sports minister for the state, which funds the club.
Rozi said the signing was part of an overhaul of the team aimed at challenging for honours on the international stage.
"Signing players like Boateng, who are of international calibre, is in line with our long-term plan to compete not just in Malaysia but at the Asian level," he told AFP.
New coach Peter Butler was quoted by local newspapers that the former Dutch international would "be very influential in the middle of the park".
Butler himself recently ran into controversy when he was sacked as coach from another Terengganu team for criticising players for breaking curfew and accusing his goalkeeper of match-fixing. The goalkeeper has been cleared.
Boateng, whose last club was English Championship side Nottingham Forest, denied the move was a "last payday" or "vacation".
"I have my good name and reputation to think of and after playing against the best of midfielders, such as Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, I have no fear whatsoever," the New Straits Times quoted him as saying.
Boateng, who has also played for Feyenoord, Coventry and Aston Villa, is the second high-profile signing by a Malaysian side in two weeks after southern Johor state captured Spanish striker Daniel Guiza, La Liga's topscorer in 2008.
Rozi also confirmed that The Titans have been working since October to bring in Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, 37, with "negotiations still ongoing".
Fowler, who is the English Premier League's fourth-highest goalscorer of all time with 162 goals, left British football in 2009 and spent the last three years playing in Australia and Thailand.
If the deal goes through, he will follow in the footsteps of other former England internationals such as Tony Cottee and David Rocastle who graced the Malaysian league in the 1990s.