With the 2022 campaign now done and dusted, the Lion City Sailors are set to bid farewell to six first-team players.
Amongst those departing, five of them have been with the Sailors since its inception in 2020 and served the club with distinction: Hassan Sunny, Shahdan Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak, Naqiuddin Eunos and Iqram Rifqi.
Faris Ramli will also leave the Sailors.
Gabriel departs after scoring 29 goals across three seasons for the Sailors, as well as a SPL Player of the Year (POTY) accolade in 2020.
His 11 goals this term also saw him finish the season as the Sailors’ second-highest local top-scorer in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) – two behind South Korea-born Song Ui-young.
A calm presence between the sticks, Singapore national team centurion Hassan meanwhile kept a total of seven clean sheets from 20 SPL appearances in 2022.
With his eye for a pass, Shahdan was a joy to watch as he kept things tidy and dictated the tempo in midfield whenever he played.
Naqiuddin was one that showcased his potential and developed into a fine full-back in his time with the Sailors.
Gabriel expressed his gratitude to the club for giving him the “perfect platform” to enjoy his football.
“It’s been three beautiful years and this club will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to thank everyone from the fans to the teammates whom I’m close with,” said the 31-year-old, who was on the scoresheet in the Sailors’ friendly loss to Borussia Dortmund (BVB) last week.
“I know they are sad to see me go, but I just want to say: Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened.
“Special thanks goes out to our club Chairman Forrest Li as well, who has been a pleasure to work with.”
Gabriel was also pleased to achieve the targets he set for himself with the Sailors.
“When I left for Thailand in 2018, I told a few close friends of mine that I have a three-year plan to be officially the best player in Singapore,” he shared.
“I’m glad I did it (win the POTY award) in two years and I can’t ask for more. I believe I’ve given everything to the club and I am confident things are just going to get better from here for me for the years to come.”
Singapore national team winger Faris parts ways with the Sailors after a two-year stint, memorably winning the SPL in his first year with the club in 2021 and he only has good things to say about his Sailors chapter.
“I have great memories here and I’m happy we managed to win the SPL title and got the chance to represent the club in the ACL (Asian Football Confederation Champions League),” he said. “I’m in my thirties now and I believe this is the right step for me as I look forward to a new challenge.
“Everyone here at the club feels like family to me, including the fans who have been with us through thick and thin and it was a great way to sign off with a goal against BVB,” he added.
“The support I received from the management to the backroom staff has been immense during my time here as well and I would like to say a big thank you.”
Meanwhile Iqram rounds off the list of departures after a memorable 2022 in which he started each of the Sailors’ six games in the ACL.
A product of Home United’s – the previous iteration of the Sailors – Prime League team, the versatile left-sided player featured once in the club’s inaugural season in 2020 before spending the following year on loan at Geylang International.
We thank the outgoing players for their service to the Sailors, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.