In the short years since their formation, the Young Lions have tasted the sweet highs and bitter lows of football, from bitter defeats and tournament exits to the thrill of giant-killing results.
The club was set up in late 2002, with the concept of a U23 team participating in the S.League having been gestating within the FAS for some years before. At the same time that the S.League announced that Gombak United would sit out the next season, Balestier Central and Clementi Khalsa would merge and Chinese club Sinchi would become the first foreign team in the league.
The rationale behind the participation of the U23 Young Lions was to ensure that they would be battle hardened for the South-East Asian Games at the end of 2003. With that in mind, coach P N Sivaji regularly rotated his starting lineup to allow as much of his squad playing time in the S.League.
But the youngsters, despite some enterprising displays early in the season, proved to be out of their depth against the more experienced S.League teams. When the dust had settled, the Young Lions were last on the S.League table.
By the time the SEA Games had rolled around, the U23 squad included standout young players from the other clubs, such as defender Baihakki Khaizan, keeper Hassan Sunny and striker Noh Alam Shah.
Despite a clear determination on the part of the team to do Singapore proud, the U23s lacked the understanding crucial to winning teams and just as debilitating to their chances, suffered from a drought in front of goal.
They went down 2-0 to Myanmar in their opening match, before exiting the tournament after losing by a similar scoreline to Malaysia despite dominating much of the play. A 5-1 hammering of Cambodia in their final game was scant consolation for a premature departure from the Games.
Disappointed yet strengthened by the SEA Games setback, the Young Lions returned for the 2004 S.League season wiser for the experience.
With the likes of Baihakki, forwards Agu Casmir, Fadzuhasny Juraimi and Itimi Dickson joining the team, the Young Lions presented a strong lineup. National team coach Radojko Avramovic took over overall supervision of the team, assisted by Fandi Ahmad and Kim Poulsen.
The result - a third place finish - was an encouraging denouement indeed for the team, officials and the many Young Lions fans attracted to Jalan Besar Stadium by their free flowing style and never-say-die attitude.
Outside of the S.League, the team continued to rack up international experience with friendlies against the likes of the Japan U20 team, the Brunei national team, the Solomon Islands national team, Swiss side FC Basel and Korean side Busan I.Park.
There was a triumphant note to the end of the 2004 season as the national team led by Avramovic and Fandi, and containing eight Young Lions, lifted the Tiger Cup trophy after a momentous campaign culminating in a 5-2 aggregate victory over Indonesia in the final.