Ask Lennart Thy about the incredible gesture he is perhaps best known for, and he will likely respond with an unassuming shrug or a wry smile.

After all, over the past few years, the Lion City Sailors’ newest recruit has consistently downplayed the significance of his act, insisting it was nothing more than ‘normal’.

But what exactly was it that Lennart did which earned him widespread praise and recognition?

The year was 2018, and Lennart was playing for VVV-Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Ahead of a crucial match against league leaders PSV Eindhoven, Lennart received news that he was a DNA match for a leukaemia patient urgently requiring matching stem cells for treatment.

Lennart, who had joined the donor register in 2011 while playing for Werder Bremen in Germany, knew immediately what he had to do. With the blessings of Venlo, he agreed to donate his blood to generate stem cells for the patient’s transplant.

This decision meant missing the game against PSV – but it was all worth it, as Lennart’s blood saved the patient’s life.

“For me, it was just a normal thing to help others when I can,” said the 32-year-old. “But it became a big thing in both the Netherlands and Germany – much bigger than I expected. Nonetheless, the love and gratitude that I received afterwards was really heartwarming.”

Though Lennart missed the PSV game, his presence was still felt at the Philips Stadion – he was honoured with the Man of the Match award, and the players’ escorts wore t-shirts emblazoned with the message, ‘Follow Lennart, become a stem cell donor.’

The subsequent widespread coverage of Lennart’s selfless act also led to a massive increase in stem cell donations in the Netherlands, and he was ultimately awarded the prestigious FIFA Fair Play Award later that year.

When asked if he would do it again if the opportunity arose, Lennart replied without hesitation, “Of course!”

Lennart, however, is not just a hero off the pitch. The experienced forward has often been the saviour for his teams, with his heart-on-sleeve style of play making him a fan favourite at every club he has played for.

In addition to being a hardworking No. 9 who presses from the front and can often be seen tracking back to help his team during defensive transitions, Lennart also has an innate knack for being in the right place at the right time.

But what sets him apart is his ability to finish with both feet though primarily right-footed, Lennart scored eight of his 13 goals for PEC Zwolle in the recently concluded 2023/24 Eredivisie season with his left.

“My ability to finish with both feet wasn’t that obvious until last season, when people started coming to me saying ‘you’re better with your left foot’,” Lennart mused. “I said ‘No, no’, but in the following game I scored again with my left.

“I actually don’t dwell too much on which foot to use when I find myself in a scoring position, so perhaps going with my instinct makes it easier for me.”

Lennart’s footballing talent was evident from a young age. He was part of the Germany team – alongside the likes of Mario Götze and Marc-André ter Stegen – that won the 2009 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, finishing joint-top scorer of that tournament. 

He also featured in the UEFA Champions League as an 18-year-old, when he came on for the last 10 minutes of Werder Bremen’s 3-0 loss at White Hart Lane against a Tottenham Hotspur side that featured players such as Peter Crouch, Gareth Bale, and Luka Modrić. 

Unsurprisingly, he went on to enjoy an eventful and fruitful career in Europe. After his stint in the German top two divisions with Werder Bremen and St Pauli, he moved to the Eredivisie, where he played for three different clubs over the past decade.

Lennart finally bid farewell to the Eredivisie on 19 May, receiving a rousing reception from fans of PEC Zwolle – where he played over 100 matches – during their final league match of the season.

Now, Lennart is ready to embark on a new adventure – over 10,000km away, with the Sailors in Singapore.

He revealed that when the Sailors came knocking, the allure of being at the forefront of such an exciting footballing project in the Lion City proved too hard to turn down.

“I’ve always said I want to try to achieve something new in football outside of Europe,” said Lennart. “So, I was intrigued when the Sailors reached out to me. After doing my research, and speaking with the management here, it got me really excited about what the club is trying to build here in Singapore.”

The father-of-two added, “It’s also a great opportunity for me to go on a new adventure with my family.”

Outlining his ambitions with the Sailors, Lennart hopes to not only win silverware with the club, but also help the younger members of the squad become better players.

“I know the club is doing a lot in terms of youth development in the country, so I’ll do my best to help the young players at this club with the experience I have,” said Lennart, who once scored against Chelsea in a 2016 friendly

“We also want to compete in two regional competitions, and are determined to win the league. I’m here to help the team score goals, play good football and achieve our objectives. The biggest challenge now is the weather, but I think I can adapt really fast over the next few weeks.”