Bart Ramselaar was at the Lion City Sailors Training Centre taking photos and doing video interviews, when someone off-camera suddenly made a reference to his famous namesake, Bart Simpson.

That cheeky comment drew a chuckle from the Dutchman, who remarked, “I get that a lot wherever I go!”

While many are familiar with Bart Simpson as a mischievous character from the popular American animated television series, The Simpsons, the Sailors’ second signing of the 2024/25 campaign is anything but. Unlike his fictional counterpart, known for his disruptive behaviour and disregard for rules, the 27-year-old prides himself on being a consummate professional.

After establishing himself as one of the most promising talents from the FC Utrecht youth system in the Netherlands and accumulating nearly a decade of experience in the Dutch Eredivisie, Bart reached a critical moment of self-reflection last year: “I’m becoming too comfortable here, and this stagnation won’t benefit my career.”

Thus, when the offer to join the Sailors in Singapore came calling, it did not take long for him to decide his next career move – one that would take him more than 10,000km to make a new mark in his football journey. 

While it was not an easy decision to make, Bart is adamant that it is the right one, as he aims to begin a new chapter in his football journey.

“After almost 10 years in my country, I think it was time for me to get out of my comfort zone and try something new,” said Bart, who made a total of 192 Eredivisie appearances since 2015, with 130 of those coming for Utrecht. 

“It was hard because I played so many games for the Utrecht first team and we’re located close to my hometown (Amersfoort) where my family lives, but I knew I had to go.”

And what was Bart’s first impression of Singapore? “It’s a really clean and safe country. I noticed it was raining very heavily when I just arrived – in Holland, it rains like a full day but not as heavily as here.”

Bart has already achieved many milestones in his career  – he won the league title with PSV Eindhoven in 2018, and has made three appearances for the Dutch national team between 2017 and 2018. This included a start in their 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Luxembourg in November 2016, where he played alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Wesley Sneijder, Georginio Wijnaldum and Arjen Robben.

Despite his impressive résumé, Bart comes across as a genuine character who has the absolute respect for his new club and league that he will play in. 

“I know there are high standards set at the Lion City Sailors – we want to win league titles, and there are ambitions to become one of the top clubs in the region, so that’s why I’m very excited to be here,” he said with steely blue-eyed determination.  

The Aleksandar Ranković connection was the most obvious pull in luring Bart to Southeast Asia, with the pair working together at Utrecht in the 2022/23 season, when the Sailors Head Coach was still assistant at the club. 

But that is not the only connection Bart has with the Sailors – he has also played with Sailors forward Richairo Živković for Holland at the Under-21 level. One of the more memorable games they played in was a 3-0 UEFA Euro U21 Championship qualifying win over Ukraine in October 2018, in which Bart captained the side while Richi scored a brace. Bart also revealed that he knows Maxime Lestienne through mutual friends. 

“I spoke with him (Richi) last week. He spoke very positively about everything, but I’ve already made the decision to sign anyway!” he joked. “I didn’t play with Max – I only joined PSV the season after he left – but he has a lot of friends there who are also friends with me.” 

However, one of the biggest pull factors for Bart is the Sailors’ playing philosophy and robust youth development program, which ensures a pipeline from the club’s Elite Academy to the first team. 

“I know this club places great emphasis on nurturing youth talent, which is evident in their investment in the development process and the construction of an impressive Training Centre – reminiscent of football culture in the Netherlands. I made the step up from the Utrecht youth team to the first team, so it’s nice to see youth players developing like this as well,” said Bart, who made his Eredivisie debut as a 17-year old in Utrecht’s 0-0 draw with Feyenoord in March 2015. 

“Utrecht was a club that gave youth players a chance, and that was so important for me. I was only turning 18 when I joined the first team, and was one of the youngest players there. It was really beneficial for me to train and play with the more experienced players, to see how my level compared to them, and that helped me a lot in my career.” 

Turning 28 this June, Bart still has his best footballing years ahead of him. And he is determined to give everything to push the Sailors a step closer to the club’s aspiration of being amongst Asia’s elite.  

“People always say 27 to 28 is the age where you’re at your best, and I hope to prove that. I’m a creative player who can create chances for other players and also score,” said Bart, who has recorded 31 goals and 18 assists in the Eredivisie.

“I want to show my qualities here and help to attract more people to the stadium. I’m here to win trophies with the team, and I want to help the team do well in the AFC Champions League 2.”