China football fans send money to Singapore goalkeeper for heroics

By AFP   June 13, 2024 | 11:33 pm PT
Singapore's veteran goalkeeper Hassan Sunny says Chinese football fans have been sending him money to say thank you for his unlikely role in keeping their World Cup dreams alive.

The 40-year-old became a hero overnight in the country of 1.4 billion people after his saves during Singapore's match at Thailand helped China squeeze into the next qualifying round.

China's hopes of reaching the third stage of Asian qualifying for 2026 were hanging by a thread after a 1-0 defeat to South Korea in Seoul on Tuesday.

Thailand then needed to beat Singapore by three goals in Bangkok to leapfrog China and snatch second place in group C, which would have ended China's World Cup hopes.

Thailand did beat basement side Singapore, but only 3-1, thanks to Sunny making 11 saves in a man-of-the-match display.

The stopper told Singapore's state broadcaster CNA that fans in China had used the Alipay account of his food stall in the city-state to transfer money to him after photos of its payment QR code were circulated online.

Singapores goalkeeper Hassan Sunny. Photo by FAS

Singapore's goalkeeper Hassan Sunny. Photo by FAS

Chinese fans have also been flocking to the modest food outlet.

While Sunny said he has been amazed by the acclaim, he wondered if being sent money for his performance was even legal.

"I did enjoy it for a while. I was like, oh okay, money coming in," CNA quoted him as saying, without disclosing how much he had received.

"But having said that, I was thinking, when is this going to stop? Is this legal?"

He is now urging Chinese fans to stop transferring him money.

"I think we have to stop somewhere," he said.

Chinese citizens and visitors in Singapore have been visiting Sunny's restaurant located in the city's eastern suburbs to thank him.

The outlet ran out of food on Thursday because of strong demand, according to local reports.

Sunny said his phone has also been inundated with messages and emails ever since the final whistle on Tuesday night.

"My family is obviously a bit shocked by all these messages," he said.

"Especially my daughters. They're like, 'Why (do) I see your face everywhere?'"

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