Singapore's mini-Mestalla

Singapore's mini-Mestalla
VALENCIA’S SINGAPORE ANGEL: Kim Lim, daughter of Valencia owner Peter Lim, posing with a fan of the La Liga club, Gustavo Hoyos.

Fans decked out in the white jersey of Spanish club Valencia swarmed the Brewerkz restaurant at Clarke Quay yesterday evening.

One fan, in particular, caught the eye.

With the name "Peter Lim" and the number "1" emblazoned across his back, it obviously was not a secret that Gustavo Hoyos was a big admirer of Valencia's Singaporean owner.

The 62-year-old sailor was on holiday in Thailand when he learnt about last night's gathering organised by Lim's staff, together with an unofficial Valencia fan club led by 23-year-old undergraduate David Chng, to watch the club's match against Real Sociedad "live" at the restaurant.

So Hoyos made an impromptu trip to the Lion City and the Valencia native soaked in the atmosphere, made new friends and, to top it all off, saw his favourites ease to a 2-0 victory.

"This is my first time in Singapore," Hoyos told The New Paper.

"I was told many Valencia supporters would be gathered here and I wanted to meet Peter Lim and thank him for what he has done for Valencia."

While Lim was overseas, his daughter Kim was at Brewerkz to mingle with the fans.

Hoyos managed to snap a selfie with the 23-year-old, who has been dubbed "Valencia's Singapore Angel" by the club's fans in Spain. Hoyos expressed his gratitude to her for her father's contributions to his beloved club.

After last night's win, Valencia lie fourth in La Liga, seven points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.

Chng was delighted.

"We have exceeded expectations," he said.

"I feel very honoured to have so many people come and this event has just shown how passionate everyone here is about football.

"To have everyone cheering together for one team, it really feels like we are there watching it "live". It's like a mini-Mestalla (Valencia's home ground), almost."

Lim's takeover of the La Liga giants in May last year has rejuvenated the club after previous financial troubles.

"I think he's a very honest man who feels the same way as the fans do about Valencia," said Hoyos of the Singapore billionaire, as he thumped the Valencia badge on his chest.

"The people in Valencia know Peter Lim is an honest man and he wants what is best for the club.

"I'm so happy I made it to Brewerkz tonight... It's as if there is a small part of Valencia here in Singapore. My heart feels like it is going to explode."

Hoyos was one of over 250 of the club's supporters who attended the screening last night.

The crowd was made up of locals and expatriates, a number of whom were Valencia natives.

A video of Valencia's greatest moments was looped on several screens at Brewerkz and, at one point, lyrics to the club's anthem were flashed on them as the tune played.

A table selling club merchandise was also set up and business was brisk. One lucky fan walked away with a signed Alvaro Negredo jersey.

The main event of the night, though, was Valencia's match against David Moyes' Sociedad side.

Pre-match, Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo had acknowledged the gathering in Singapore and his charges duly saw off the challenge of their Basque opponents with little fuss.

They won thanks to a brace from Argentine playmaker Pablo Piatti.

Valencia are the third-most successful side in Spain, with six La Liga titles and seven Spanish Cup victories.

In the early 2000s, they were twice runners-up in European football's top club competition, the Champions League.

They won the Uefa Cup - now known as the Europa League - in 2004.

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 2, 2015.
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