Local barber: It’s a ‘privilege’ to give Manchester United players a trim
Muhammad Khairi says Ashley Young 'felt like a friend', gave him tickets to last Saturday's game
What he thought was a scam turned out to be an unforgettable experience for the die-hard Manchester United fan.
Late afternoon on Friday, barber Muhammad Khairi received a text message from a British number requesting he head to Ritz-Carlton hotel for a haircut for an Ashley.
Mr Khairi, who owns The A Street Barber Shop in Haji Lane, told The New Paper yesterday: "I thought it was fake. I googled the number to see if it was real."
The message from "Ashley" said he got the barber's number from one of his regular clients, and it was only when Mr Khairi checked did he realise the haircut would be for the Manchester United fullback Ashley Young.
Mr Khairi was more than happy to give the United veteran a "zero-all-over" before the team's International Champions Cup match against Italian giants Inter Milan at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The 28-year-old had to manoeuvre past throngs of fans and heavy security at the hotel, before being escorted to a room. Minutes later, Young walked in.
He gave the 34-year-old former England international a trim and was stunned when other United players - French World Cup winner Paul Pogba, England star Marcus Rashford, Argentina's Marcos Rojo and Portuguese Joel Pereira - followed.
A self-taught barber, Mr Khairi, who had to hold back tears at the time, described the entire episode as "humbling".
He said Young wanted to pay him for the cut - his usual fee is $35 a person - but he refused as he felt it was already a "privilege" that they used his services.
Young then offered Mr Khairi a Man United kit and tickets to Saturday's game at the Singapore Sports Hub.
"I told Young I already had tickets but he insisted," he said.
They got on so well, Young even made an appointment on Sunday before the Red Devils flew to Shanghai to continue their pre-season tour.
"Young and I just clicked. He felt like a friend.
"I felt bad he was booed during the match on Saturday, and so on Sunday, I apologised to him on behalf of Singaporeans," said Mr Khairi.
Passion for his craft drove him on when the business was struggling at the start in 2015, and he now has a strong clientele with a number of regulars and some world-renowned footballers on his resume.
Smiling, Mr Khairi said: "This is not just a job to me, it is a passion."