Two Straits Times readers are on their way to Brazil next month for an all-expenses-paid, three-match World Cup experience worth $25,000 each.
They emerged from more than 200 entries as the main winners of a contest run by ST in partnership with Komoco Motors.
While the latest replica kits are the attire of choice for many Singaporean football fans, Foo Cexiang boasts a collection of match-worn shirts stained with dirt and sweat.
But they will never see the inside of a washing machine, for the public servant has painstakingly collected over 25 tops of famous players - to the tune of nearly $30,000.
His treasure trove, which is displayed proudly in his Pasir Ris home, includes jerseys once adorned by all-time greats Pele, Eusebio and Diego Maradona, as well as current world-class acts Lionel Messi and Andrea Pirlo.
"These are true pieces of sporting history, and I've always felt the No. 10s were a special part of the game for their creativity and knack for magical moves," said the 28-year-old, whose dream is to own a football cafe to display his impressive collection.
To ensure their authenticity, he buys jerseys only from reputable auction houses or through reliable collectors in Europe.
Pele's post-1970 World Cup Brazil home shirt - purchased for $5,000 - remains his most prized possession, followed by six jerseys of Roberto Baggio, nicknamed the Divine Ponytail.
Watching the 1994 World Cup on television, Foo was captivated as the Italy hotshot sent fans in the United States into a frenzy through moments of pure genius.
The bachelor said: "Baggio single-handedly pulled Italy all the way to the final. Though they eventually lost to Brazil (with Baggio missing the decisive penalty in the shoot-out), it gave me the idea of collecting real jerseys to cherish those memorable times."
After investing so much in these coveted items, Foo finally gets to watch the World Cup in person next month. His trip is made possible after he was selected as one of two readers by The Straits Times, in partnership with Komoco Motors, for an all-expenses-paid, three-match experience.
On earning his first live World Cup experience, the Germany supporter said: "I'm going to be looking for more souvenirs in Brazil for family and friends - thankfully, they won't cost as much as my jerseys."
This article was first published on May 26, 2014.
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