Cancer patient gets LionsXII jersey from Fandi, Zulfahmi and team manager Farehan
Fandi, Zulfahmi and team manager Farehan present LionsXII jersey to cancer patient
Eight months ago, Hua Yi Secondary School student Norruzainal Norhisham was working hard to get in tip-top shape to represent his school in the zonal football tournament.
Then, a week before the tournament, tragedy struck.
What began as sleepless nights eventually led to the discovery that the 14-year-old had been struck down with lymphoma.
Since February, Norruzainal has been receiving chemotherapy treatment.
He has been confined to his bed in a ward at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital since late August.
Yesterday, he was given a surprise visit by LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad, midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin and team manager Farehan Hussein, who presented him an autographed LionsXII jersey.
Fandi had learnt about the football-mad boy's story from a friend, and made sure he paid a visit.
"We sympathise with Norruzainal and his family," said the 53-year-old football icon.
"To us, when our fans are in such tough conditions, and yet they still remember us and continue to give us support, I feel it is only right we do something for them too.
"Hopefully, by visiting him, we can just help him forget his struggles for a while. Norruzainal has our motivation and support and, God willing, he can overcome this."
Zulfahmi added: "I put myself in his shoes and there's no doubt he must be quite emotionally down right now.
"So, I hope our being here gives him a bit more strength to persevere."
The LionsXII have been actively making their supporters smile off the pitch this year.
After winning the Malaysian FA Cup in Kuala Lumpur on May 29, the team returned to Singapore and visited 69-year-old fan Normah Idris, who was battling lung cancer, at her home in Pasir Ris.
She passed away on June 11, just nine days after the team's visit.
In July, the squad invited a 12-year-old boy known as "Abang" to have a kickabout during a training session.
They had read a story in the New Paper a week earlier of how he played the role of father, carer and cook for his younger siblings.
The LionsXII jersey given to Norruzainal yesterday was draped over the edge of his hospital bed, next to a Chelsea one - the English Premier League champions are his favourite club.
His mother, 34-year-old homemaker Nur Hidayah Hashim, said football is "a big part" of Norruzainal's life.
"He wanted to get into his primary school's team, but did not make it after going for trials," she said.
"So, after he joined Hua Yi and got into the school team, he was very active in the sport.
"Football just has a different effect on him... When his teammates visited him, they played games in the ward, and that helped him forget this (battle against cancer) for a while."
The soft-spoken Norruzainal, who was a striker for his school, said he cannot wait to beat cancer, lace up his boots and start scoring goals again.
"That's my hope," he said with a smile.