Scott Ollerenshaw is a former Australian international who decided to try his hand at being a football agent. Darren was part of a crop of players that made that possible.
“He isn’t my agent anymore but there was a boy from England already out here called Junior Eldstål, who’s a good friend of mine now. He wasn’t doing much in England but came to Malaysia and was a huge hit.
“Scott was successful with him and thought how he could do it with other players, so he messaged quite a few people. In the end there was seven of us that all came over, I think I was playing the highest level out of those.
“They’ve all gone on to have good careers out here, playing regularly and whilst it might not be Premier League money, there’s certainly good money to be made.”
Things went very quickly for Darren whilst in Malaysia. His life was changing dramatically, and at times, that became tough to deal with.
“It was just a crazy experience! I waited a while for my passport and when that finally came through, things then went very fast.
“I made my debut and not long after I ended up getting a national team call-up for Malaysia. I’d only played two or three games it all went very, very quickly. I’d gone from playing non-league back home, to playing international football.
“It was pretty surreal, and I didn’t expect it to go that fast. I went to one of the big tournaments in South East Asia, playing in front of 40,000 fans, I’d been used to 500 at Priory Lane! I did have to pinch myself and think, ‘what the hell’s going on here?!’
“Malaysian fans are absolutely fanatic; it’s not 40,000 every week, often it’s 5 or 10,000 but when there’s a big game or a final you’ll easily get 80,000 in for one of those.
“I do think perhaps it did happen all a bit too quick though. I went to the tournament and didn’t do a great deal; I don’t think I was used to how different it was.
“You finish a game where perhaps you haven’t played amazingly and your phone’s going crazy, you’ve got pundits talking about you, so it was very difficult for me at first. My confidence took a battering! I’m used to it now, but it was tough at first.
“There’s quite a few of us boys from England that have come to Malaysia. Not Sussex area that I know of, but a few from non-league so it’s good having them around to help you through bad times. My agent at the time was someone I could speak to; he would stick up for me in the media.”
Darren does feel at home in Malaysia now, and speaks to us of what it means to him to represent his family’s heritage.
“I haven’t actually played for Malaysia in a couple of years because of injury, but there’s talk of me getting recalled soon. It’s a nice thing to be able to say that you’re an international footballer.
“I may not have grown up here, but I have family here and it’s a country that I’m very proud to represent. I scored my only international goal so far against Syria who are actually a very good team.
“It’s one thing I noticed when I left England that there’s so many countries with talented players, but it also makes you realise just how good you have to be to make it in England.
“My dad was very proud. He loves Malaysia and I think he misses it a lot. The fact that I’m here I think makes him feel closer to home. My mum’s obviously proud as well but I think she misses me!”