Photo credit: LUBIS RATNO

Hougang United’s Lionel Tan surprises 12-year-old fan by giving him training jersey for his birthday

The father of the young fan called the gesture an “extremely thoughtful” act.

Phoon Jia Hui

Jack of all trades, master of drinking boba milk tea.

Published: 10 February 2021, 2:34 PM

As he turned 12 on Tuesday (Feb 9), Shayn Lubis Ratno received a special gift from a local footballer he watches often. 

It was an orange Hougang United training top bearing Lionel Tan’s numbers, which the defender personally handed to Shayn last week.

The gesture from the footballer delighted Shayn and his father, Lubis Ratno, who took to Facebook to thank Lionel. 

He wrote in the post: “Lionel Tan texted me a few days ago saying he thought about my son (he remembers me bringing him to HGFC’s games) and he’d like to pass him one of his old training jerseys.

“The timing was perfect as Shayn’s birthday was coming up. Thanks a lot, Lionel. This was extremely thoughtful of you.”


Shayn posing with the training top he received from Lionel. PHOTO CREDIT: LUBIS RATNO


Lubis explained to Youthopia that Shayn was previously introduced to Lionel when the father-son pair travelled to Hougang Stadium to watch the Cheetahs’ football matches.

“For Lionel to say that he had something for my son was a huge gesture. It could have been a toothbrush, I would still feel the same way,” he told Youthopia. 

“Shayn felt really proud that such a big man like Lionel would give him his own stuff. I’m honoured that one of the best players at the club my son and I support would remember little things like us having attended Hougang games before.”  

Lionel said he gave the training top to Shayn as it reminded him of how he would also follow his father to catch S.League (now Singapore Premier League) and national team games when he was younger. 

“To be honest, I didn’t know it was Shayn’s birthday until I was informed and I’m glad I could do my little part for him,” said Lionel. 

“I only have limited jerseys to give away at the end of the season. When there were many asking for it, it was tough for me and I apologise for not being able to meet all of these requests.” 

Through his actions, Lionel hopes to see more support for the local game. 

“Of course, it’s not just about (giving away) the jersey,” he said. “It is also to show that us local footballers do care a lot for our fans.

“I do hope to see more fans coming together to support local football as football is nothing without fans.”

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