Ilhan relishes the pressure of being a Fandi
Teen looks forward to reprising partnership with Marc, son of ex-Lion Steven Tan
With local football legend Fandi Ahmad as his father and national team regulars Irfan and Ikhsan his older brothers, Ilhan knows he has big boots to fill.
But the 17-year-old attacking midfielder is not one to wilt under the weight of expectations.
Instead, he believes he will thrive under the pressure as he enters his first full season in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) with the Young Lions.
Ilhan was handed his SPL debut by his father towards the tail end of the last campaign, and he wasted no time in introducing himself, scoring in his first two starts.
When asked about the pressure of carrying Fandi's name, Ilhan said: "Honestly, I love it.
"It makes me work even harder to meet those expectations. I am confident that I will reach it, not now, but eventually. At this moment, I want to focus on the coming season and see where I stand."
It helps that his older brothers - Irfan and Ikhsan, who are plying their trade with Thai club BG Pathum United and Norway's Raufoss IL respectively - have offered Ilhan tips.
"My brothers always tell me to keep working hard and push myself, especially in terms of physique. They want me to get more physical with opponents."
Like Irfan, 22, and Ikhsan, 20, Ilhan - who moved to England for two years to study at Queen Ethelburga's College and train with the i2i Football Academy in York - is not lacking confidence in his ability as well.
When The New Paper mentioned foreign defenders such as Hougang United's Zac Anderson and Lion City Sailors' Kaishu Yamazaki, whom Ilhan will be coming up against, the Lionel Messi fan flashed a wide smile and chuckled.
He said: "It's good for my development. Because if you want to be the best, then you have to play against the best...
"If I don't test myself, I won't know how good I am."
This year, Ilhan will also be reprising his lethal youth-team partnership with Marc Ryan Tan, son of another former Singapore striker, Steven.
In 2014, Ilhan and Marc scored a combined 28 goals in eight games as their F-17 Under-11 team finished third out of 120 teams at the Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Ilhan quipped: "Maybe he can give me a few good balls for me to finish this year."
The duo were on the scoresheet in the Young Lions' 5-2 defeat by the Lion City Sailors in a friendly last Friday.
Young Lions coach Nazri Nasir, who took over from Fandi last year, hopes Ilhan will thrive in his role as a false No. 9.
Said Nazri, 49: "He's a naturally talented player. Since his return from England, he's become a lot tougher. I expect him to be a lot more tactically intelligent this year.
"We are playing him as a false No. 9 because he has really good technique and good reading of the game. The players around him have to connect with him."
With the exit of several regulars, this year's Young Lions squad are sorely lacking in experience. And with Ilhan enlisting for national service in April, Nazri knows the odds are stacked against his team.
He said: "This year will be tougher, yes. But I want the other SPL clubs to know that it won't be an easy game (against us). We've asked the boys to toughen up and be stronger.
"We have to give the players time. The fans can expect a different team this year, in terms of the concept of football.
"I assure you that we will play good football."
Coach: Nazri Nasir
Homeground: Jurong West Stadium
In: Ryhan Stewart (DF, from Warriors FC), Danish Irfan (DF, Geylang International), Akmal Azman (DF, Tampines Rovers)
Out: Saifullah Akbar (MF, Lion City Sailors), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (DF, Lion City Sailors), Joshua Pereira (MF, Geylang Int'l), Syahrul Sazali (DF, Tampines Rovers)
Last season: 8th
Outlook: As Nazri himself admitted, this is a very young squad, with the likes of Jacob Mahler, Danish Irfan and Ryhan Stewart being the only ones with SPL experience. It will be a long, hard season.
- v Hougang United (home)
March 11 (7.45pm)
- v Geylang International (away)
March 14 (5.30pm)
- v Balestier Khalsa (home)