Hassan named as one of world's top-20 goalkeepers
British newspaper rates Hassan Sunny better than England's Jack Butland
Keeper kat mana*? On The Telegraph's list of top 20 goalkeepers in the world, that's where.
National shot-stopper Hassan Sunny was yesterday taken aback by news that he was named as the world's 18th-best goalkeeper by the British newspaper.
After Malaysia knocked out Singapore from the AFF Suzuki Cup in December 2014, football fans across the Causeway tweaked Singapore singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah's song "Awak kat mana?" (Where are you?) to mercilessly mock the 32-year-old shot-stopper, who plies his trade in Thailand with Army United.
But he's the one laughing now, after finding himself listed among the likes of Manuel Neuer, David de Gea and Gianluigi Buffon.
Hassan admitted, however, that he first thought someone was trying to pull his leg.
"I first saw it when someone posted the link on Twitter and tagged me," the 2014 S.League Player of the Year told The New Paper.
"I thought it was a belated April Fool's joke.
"But within 10 minutes, I started getting congratulatory messages from teammates and friends, and I realised (The Telegraph) was a big newspaper, and it was for real."
The Telegraph listed Hassan at No. 18, between Stoke City and England man Jack Butland (No. 19) and Barcelona's German international Marc-Andre ter Stergen.
The newspaper noted the Singaporean was the only goalkeeper on their list to have never played in Europe but added that Hassan is "one of the finest Asian talents", ahead of Australian Mat Ryan, who is at Spanish side Valencia.
Said Hassan: "Of course, the level (between where the other goalkeepers are playing and he is) is very far, but just to be noted and categorised together with those names is unimaginable.
"I am honoured. It's really hard to get this kind of recognition, especially on a global level."
Other local goalkeepers have also received acclaim in recent years.
Last June, Izwan Mahbud - Hassan's rival for the national No. 1 jersey - also made headlines for shutting out mighty Japan in a World Cup qualifier in Saitama which ended 0-0.
And in 2006, now-retired Lionel Lewis was nominated for the AFC Player of the Year award, the first Singaporean to be shortlisted for the award.
In 2014, another British newspaper, The Guardian, named Irfan Fandi, the eldest son of Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad as one of the top 40 young talents in world football.
*Where's the keeper, in Malay
The Telegraph's top 20 goalkeepers
1 Manuel Neuer (Germany and Bayern Munich)
2 David de Gea (Spain and Manchester United)
3 Gianluigi Buffon (Italy and Juventus)
4 Mattia Perin (Italy and Genoa)
5 Petr Cech (Czech Republic and Arsenal)
6 Claudio Bravo (Chile and Barcelona)
7 Hugo Lloris (France and Tottenham Hotspur)
8 Thibaut Courtois (Belgium and Chelsea)
9 Kevin Trapp (Germany and Paris St Germain)
10 Keylor Navas (Costa Rica and Real Madrid)
11 Bernd Leno (Germany and Bayer Leverkusen)
12 Joe Hart (England and Manchester City)
13 Fernando Muslera (Uruguay and Galatasaray)
14 Igor Akinfeev (Russia and CSKA Moscow)
15 Samir Handanovic (Slovenia and Inter Milan)
16 Stephane Ruffier (France and Saint Etienne)
17 Marc Andre ter Stergen (Germany and Barcelona)
18 HASSAN SUNNY (Singapore and Army United)
19 Jack Butland (England and Stoke)
20 Carlos Kameni (Cameroon and Malaga)