Ronaldinho arrives in Singapore amidst much fanfare
Excitement had been building ever since it was announced last week that Ronaldinho was coming to Singapore to launch a football academy, in conjunction with S.League club Tampines Rovers and International Football Group.
Thus there was no surprise to see fervent football fans in Singapore thronging Changi Airport Terminal 1 on Thursday afternoon to catch a glimpse of the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year.
A crowd of about 30 fans was building up an hour before his scheduled 1.45pm arrival and it quickly swelled to around 200 thereafter, with the air thick with anticipation at the arrival hall.
Understandably a number of them were donning Brazil and Barcelona jerseys, the two teams with which Ronaldinho found worldwide fame.
The crowd duly went wild as the man himself finally appeared around 2pm, causing a near-stampede as he exited the gates.
Donning a beanie, a simple white top and customary shades, the 35-year-old was swarmed by autograph and selfie requests as he took every step. While visibly overwhelmed by the support, Ronaldinho afforded a quick wave to the fans just before being driven off in a sleek dark blue Bentley, complete with the Stags’ logo on the door.
The process took less than five minutes, but it was a memory which will stay for Xavier Sim’s lifetime. The 16-year-old is a Liverpool fan, but could not help but idolise the iconic Brazilian.
“To finally get a chance to see my favourite player in the flesh is a dream come true,” he exclaimed.
“I'm lucky because it's the school holidays so I can be here to see Ronaldinho at the airport in the middle of the afternoon.
“I've idolised Ronaldinho since he signed for Barcelona. He's really a special player because how many times have you seen Real Madrid fans applaud a Barcelona player?
“That said, I don't think I would have liked him so much if he signed for Manchester United!”
The crowd quickly dispersed thereafter and many of them will likely follow him to ION Orchard, where Ronaldinho and his team of freestylers will be doing a demonstration of a specially endorsed E-Scooter as part of his Singapore trip.
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo