All about Anu's beard
Newly-minted Young Player of the Year will lose his Drake-like look next year
They say he bears a resemblance to American R&B rapper Drake and many of those who watched M Anumanthan walk up to the stage and collect his Young Player of the Year award in the ballroom at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre last night would know why.
Sporting a blazer and wearing that unmistakable beard, he was a standout at the 2016 S.League Awards Night yesterday.
The 22-year-old midfielder has shown a marked improvement in his game this season operating in the engine room for Hougang United.
His first comments last night, though, were about the Drake-inspired beard.
"I will probably shave it off next year," said the young gun, who will enlist for National Service in 2017, having recently completed his studies at Republic Polytechnic.
Anumanthan's starring role in the Hougang midfield did not go unnoticed.
Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy recently called him up to be part of the Lions squad and the youngsters is striving to be part of the team that will do battle in the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup.
"I will do all I can to be in the team," said Anu.
"I think our team will be able to go far in the Suzuki Cup.
I believe we can make it to the semi-finals, and then possibly even win it.
"I have complete confidence and belief in my coach and teammates."
Anu was over the moon over his individual win last night.
He said: "I did not expect to win because it was really as good as a 50-50 chance for everyone.
"The other nominees stood an equal chance and it was anybody's to win, really."
The other nominees were Shahrin Saberin and Song Ui Yong from Home United and Albirex Niigata's Naofumi Tanaka.
Anumanthan is the first local footballer to win the award since national teammate Hariss Harun in 2010.
These days, Hariss is the biggest star among the Lions and also one of the mainstays for all-conquering Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim.
Both play in central midfield, and Anu touched on training alongside Hariss.
He said: "I train with him, he's from my previous school as well (St Gabriel's Secondary) and we trained together almost every day.
"He's a motivation for me as a footballer and I'll just keep going at it, working hard and improving myself."
Anu couldn't pinpoint any particular area where he has improved, but said: "At Hougang, everyone is very mature and we push one another to be better.
"Environment is very important to improve yourself, I feel, and the mentality of the players as well.
"Overall I think working together with my teammates has been key."
He was grateful for the honour and said: "My parents will definitely be very proud, no doubt.
"I have to thank the fans and the people around me.
"My best friend and teammate Iqbal Hussain has been with me every step of the way.
"My teammates really play an important in contributing to my success and I owe it to them."
"I hope to continue making everybody around me, including my parents, proud and hopefully bring them something new to be proud of in the coming Suzuki Cup."
We all have pillars of support and my parents and teammates from Hougang have played a key role in pushing me to become who I am as a footballer today.
— 2016 S.League Young Player of the Year, M Anumanthan receiving the award from former national skipper Terry Pathmanathan