Star-studded farewell to Santos
Leslie Santos' testimonial match next month will include local stars from the entertainment industry who will do their bit to say goodbye to one of the SAR's best midfielders.
Singer Alan Tam Wing-lun and funnyman Eric Tsang Chi-wai will also be appearing in the match that will help celebrate the end of Santos' 20-year-old professional career at Mongkok Stadium on May 1. Apart from the entertainers, other footballers and referees of yesteryear, such as former Seiko star Wu Kwok-hung and retired referee Ng Yim-kim, will also make appearances in the match scheduled to start at 8pm.
Santos is signing off after a stellar career that began when he was recruited by giants South China 20 years ago. He stayed with the Caroliners for 16 years before leaving Hong Kong's best-supported club at the end of the 1997-98 season.
'I am very grateful for getting this opportunity to say goodbye to all my fans, friends and supporters. At the end of the day, I will also get to win a cup [a special cup will be made for him] so win or lose, at least I will get something,' said the 34-year-old Santos, a two-times Hong Kong Footballer of the Year.
'I am pleased that some members from the entertainment industry will come over to help me celebrate my retirement. All in all, it's going to be a fun-filled night.'
Santos will play the first half with his favourite club, South China, before changing jerseys to play the rest of the match for his current club Sun Hei, for whom he has played three seasons.
Sun Hei boss Chow Man-leung said he had always admired Santos and had followed his career since the diminutive midfielder played in the Reserve Division for South China as a teenager.
'He was always a talented player even during his youth. It was no surprise that he was so successful. We will miss him dearly and things won't be the same without him. He had three seasons with Sun Hei and we are sad that we have to let him go,' lamented Chow.
South China team director Peter Leung Shou-chi said Santos would wear his famous number 10 shirt when he turned out for South China in the first half of the match.