Hassan Sunny: 'Every road leads to the Thai Premier League ... I'm so lucky to be here'

Lorenzo Fofi speaks to Singapore's Hassan Sunny about acclimatising to life in Bangkok, going up against some of Thailand's best footballers and Singapore's chances in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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Eight months on from his move to the Thai Premier League, Hassan Sunny is rapidly gaining a reputation among football fans in the country. The 31-year-old Singaporean custodian was handed a golden opportunity to ply his trade overseas this season and despite initial skepticism, he has quickly won over fans with some outstanding performances between the sticks for Army United.

How would you describe your time at Army United so far?

It's much better now compared to the first three months. Back then it was really tough for me. I didn’t know any roads anywhere and since I'm Muslim, there were multiple limitations, especially food and cultural issues. But the junior staff at [Army United] were ready to help me. Google searches were also helpful as well. But honestly I think that for someone to really know the town, any town, is to get themselves lost in that town so they can find their way again.

Does that mean you've been lost quite often in Thailand?

Yes! I’ve been lost all over Bangkok (laughs). But now it’s a different story; wherever you want to go, just say it. Skytrain, subway, I’m good. But I can never figure out bus routes, it’s too complicated (laughs).

You seem pretty happy with life at the moment?

Right now I’m very happy to be at Army and to play in the Thai Premier League. I mean, to play abroad has been one of my career dreams since I started playing football. I have grown and played in Singapore for 11 years. But at the end of last season, my team at that time, Warriors FC, won the S. League and I was awarded the Player of the Year award so I felt that, OK I’ve almost exceeded my top level, it’s time to step outside and broaden my horizons.

You've certainly picked the road less travelled. Why Thailand?

When I decided to move abroad, the first league I looked at was the Thai Premier League. The reason was simple; this is the best league in Southeast Asia. Then it was time to reach out to my contacts. The first person I talked to was Gary Stevens (the former Army United coach). He said he wanted me to join him in Bangkok, but then it wasn’t easy as the club wouldn't agree to use their foreign quota on a goalkeeper. But then after a trial, I had an opportunity to change their mind.

The other person I spoke to was Rangsan (Wiwatchaichok – BEC Tero Sasana captain). He was my teammate back when we played at Geylang United. We’re not close friends but he’s a good mate. He was the first person I called when I knew I had got a contract with Army. I asked him what Thai football is like, what’s the level, is it difficult? He told me a lot of things, including the styles of play, the strong teams in the league, who the strong players are. At first I didn’t know the league so it was hard to believe everything he told me. But when I arrived here, I was blown away by the strength of the footballers, not only foreign players, but Thai players who were yet to become internationals but were also great as well. They could easily make Singapore's national team.