Defeat Turns Into A Sunny Victory

Hassan Sunny

FAME and infamy can strike suddenly.

Are you prepared either way when the spotlight is on you?

Hassan Sunny was as prepared for public scrutiny as he was for Singapore’s recent football matches against South Korea and Thailand.

After letting in 10 goals — losing 7-0 and 3-1, respectively — the Singapore custodian was on the receiving end of a deluge of made-in-China bouquets. Despite being on the losing end, his 11 saves in the game against Thailand allowed China to squeeze through to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, at Thailand’s expense. 

The ensuing hero worship and adulation from Chinese fans on social media was unexpected as it was uncomfortable. 

Something of a backhanded compliment, Sunny has been heaped praise via social media and gifted money while business has picked up sharply for his nasi lemak stall, Dapur Hassan, in Tampines, which has benefitted from Chinese largesse.

It was the silver lining to an otherwise overcast situation, considering Singapore is still on a winless streak since last October. 

Dealing With Unexpected Fame

While appreciative of being in the spotlight, 40-year-old Sunny, Singapore’s most-capped goalkeeper, who plays for Albirex Niigata Singapore, has asked his newfound fans to stop sending him money. Scammers were quick to set up a fake account to try and syphon some of this unexpected windfall. And how will Sunny account for all that money rolling in — to the tax man and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS)?

Sunny has decided to donate the money that’s been sent his way.

It’s not the first time Sunny is on the receiving end of social media attention.

Against Malaysia in the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2016, Sunny abandoned his goal to help Singapore salvage a point in the dying moments of the game, only for the ball to break and Malaysia to score. That resulted in social media lighting up with various memes and videos, and the hashtag #KeeperKatMana (where is the keeper?).

It’s the sign of the age we live in. Everything is fast and furious and you have little time to react to a situation. Somehow, others with loads more time, tend to be ahead of you.

Alert To Possibilities

But some of Sunny’s goalkeeping reflexes kicked in swiftly and he started a Douyin account which racked up significant (by Singapore’s standards) numbers and views. It’ll help him build a fan base should China offer him a chance to play his retirement football over there.

Or, if there’s an opportunity to grow his food business in China.

While Sunny’s current situation is coming up roses, the social media pendulum can also swing in the opposite direction, if you’ve been singled out for attention for an act that is viewed as less than acceptable in the eyes of the social media community.

Social media fans are like hounds, relentless in pursuing every little bit of information about their targets.

If you’ve parked your car in an inconsiderate manner, or caused a ruckus in a public place, or have a point of view that grates on someone’s nerves, the social media trolls can be unleashed to track you down and taunt and haunt you.

The digital world has made things easily accessible and many don’t stop to think of the consequences before hitting the send button.

The only consolation is that something else will come up soon enough to serve as a distraction, relegating your moment into the digital vault of the internet.

While it’s nice to be appreciated for his involvement in the game, it shouldn’t be for the current reasons Sunny is enjoying his fame.

It would be much better if the FAS could lift the national game to deliver wins that strike fear in opponents and lift trophies as promised, rather than bask in the golden glow of sympathy love.

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