Football: Hassan seals Thai deal

Football: Hassan seals Thai deal
Hassan Sunny, goalkeeper of the Singapore national football team.

After almost a month of negotiations, national goalkeeper Hassan Sunny has finally secured a move to Thai Premier League side Army United.

Yesterday, the reigning S.League Player of the Year signed a one-year contract with the club, which also ended his short-lived return to Tampines Rovers.

It ended a long waiting game which started since mid-December.

The New Paper reported on Jan 10 that Hassan went on a three-day trial with Army United in Bangkok, made possible by a clause in his Tampines contract which allowed his release to a foreign club.

He impressed the Thai club and their head coach Gary Stevens during the stint, but had to wait for club owners, King Power International, based in Leicester, England, to offer him an agreeable contract.

Hassan, who declined to reveal his salary package, told TNP in a phone interview from Chonburi yesterday - where he watched his new teammates play a friendly against South Korean league side Gyeongnam FC - that the wait was worth it.

"I'm excited about the move. I want to see where I stand in this league, which already has so many great goalkeepers," said the 30-year-old, who is the second Singaporean to play in Thailand after John Wilkinson.


"There is pressure on me as a foreign import, but I prefer it that way. It will keep me on my toes.

"The team are ambitious. They don't have the budget of a big club, but they want to replicate what Southampton are doing in the EPL." Hassan is Army United's fourth foreign signing for the upcoming season, which starts next month.

He will line up alongside Dutch striker Melvin de Leeuw, who scored nine goals in the Scottish Premier League last year, and former J-League midfielder Kai Hirano. A Brazilian completes the foreign roster.

Stags coach V Sundramoorthy said that he and club chairman, Teo Hock Seng, tried to convince Hassan to stay in Singapore.

"We really wanted him, but it's his dream to play overseas and we couldn't stand in his way," Sundram said.

"It's very difficult for a goalkeeper to get a foreign-player slot - the last Singaporean goalkeeper to play abroad was Edmund Wee in Hong Kong (in 1981).

"So I'm really happy for Hassan, and I wish him well."

This article was first published on Jan 26, 2015.
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