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SINGAPORE – It is a jersey worn by the likes of Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus.

Now, a Singapore footballer will turn out in the famous yellow and black kit of German giants Borussia Dortmund.

The club announced on Friday that Danelle Tan, 18, has become the first Asian to join their women’s team. In July, the forward will join them for pre-season training, which includes camps in the German Alps.

Tan, who will complete her A levels at the Mill Hill School in London in June, was hunting for stints in Europe when Suresh Letchmanan, managing director of Dortmund Asia Pacific, contacted her.

After meeting Dortmund’s head of women’s football, Svenja Schlenker, who took on her role in 2020, Tan trained for a week with the team in February and received a proposal to join them permanently.

She said: “I feel incredibly blessed and privileged for such an opportunity and I hope to make the most of it. The club have ambitious plans and their massive fan base were big swing factors for me.

“I’m going… to spend a lot of time on physical conditioning to make sure I’ll be ready as Dortmund climbs the leagues.”

While Dortmund’s men’s team are among Europe’s elites, their women’s side were formed only in 2021 and the players are not on professional, full-time contracts. Tan joins on a year-long deal and intends to stay for the long term.

First, she will need to help get Dortmund to the top division, the Frauen-Bundesliga. In 2021, they decided against purchasing a licence that would allow them to begin higher up the pyramid.

Focused on doing it the “Dortmund way”, the women’s team started from the bottom in the seventh tier. They were promoted in 2022 and 2023 and will start the new season in the fifth-tier Landesliga in August.

Tan added: “While some may think that joining Dortmund in the fifth tier represents a step down, I beg to differ. From the football, to the infrastructure to the marketing, you can see the plans unfolding throughout the club.

“The facilities are world-class, the coaches are top-notch… Dortmund is a special club and it is committed to building the women’s side and I want to be a part of that.”

Schlenker said Tan had won over the coaching team with her videos and during training sessions.

The German added: “Danelle’s journey to BVB can be seen as an inspiration to young female athletes worldwide, showcasing that hard work, talent, and dedication can pave the way for extraordinary opportunities. Her determination and passion for the sport embody the values that we as a club stand for: teamwork, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence.

“Dortmund assures her that she will find a supportive and nurturing environment within the aspiring BVB Frauen team.”

Dortmund’s head of women’s football, Svenja Schlenker (right) presenting Danelle Tan with a Dortmund kit. PHOTO: BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Tan will forgo her spot at the College of William and Mary (W&M) in Virginia in the United States, where she was slated to begin in January.

She was granted a part-athletic scholarship by the college in November 2022 and would have been the first Singaporean to be accepted into a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football programme.

She said: “Believe me, this was a very, very hard decision to make. W&M is a fantastic school, with the coaches there being possibly the warmest and most welcoming individuals I’ve met.

“But Dortmund is a special club. When I went to the stadium and watched Dortmund’s men beat Chelsea in the Champions League, I got to experience how insanely passionate the fans are.

“The ‘yellow wall’ is the stuff of legend.”

Danelle’s father Meng Wei added: “Not only is it one of the biggest clubs in the world, it has ambitious plans for women’s football.

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“What decided things for us is the tight family atmosphere they have. It’s important for us as parents that she is supported and that she is in good hands.”

The young striker has been a trailblazer for Singapore women’s football. When she was 12, she made it to the Under-16 girls’ team.

Two years later, she was recruited by the national team for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship and became the youngest player to score for Singapore at 14 years and 294 days when she netted on her debut against Timor-Leste. She has since earned 20 caps and scored four goals.

In February, Tan became the first female Singaporean to play in a European league when she turned out for the London Bees in the amateur FA Women’s National League South. There, she scored twice in 12 appearances.

Now, her journey with the German giants beckons.