Pumped up for Maracana team

Pumped up for Maracana team
Mr Dennis Tan, a football diehard fan, is one of two readers to win the ST-Hyundai World Cup contest.

SINGAPORE - 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.

It takes a true die-hard to walk for one hour - passing through a cemetery along the way - to watch a football match on a small screen.

In 1974, Dennis Tan did just that, taking a midnight stroll from his Balestier home to Orchard Road to catch the World Cup final between hosts West Germany and the Netherlands.

Sweaty and slightly spooked, he joined a small crowd glued to a colour television set in the lobby of a building now occupied by the Singapore Shopping Centre. "When Gerd Mueller scored the winning goal for Germany, I remember screaming like mad and thinking that going through the cemetery was worth it," the 57-year-old said with a laugh.

Paranormal activity will not be an issue next month as Tan will watch three World Cup games live in Brazil after winning a Straits Times contest.

It will be his second visit to the football-mad country. During a work trip six years ago, the purchasing manager joined 80,000 baying fans for a domestic league clash at the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

"I thought it was once-in-a-lifetime but I get to experience it again - my ears are still ringing from the crazy atmosphere that day," said Tan, whose 12-day trip comprises two knock-out fixtures at the Maracana and one in Brasilia.

The sports fanatic claims to have not missed a single minute of World Cup action since the 1970 edition, readily spouting off key moments at each quadrennial showpiece.

He said: "I've risked eye bags and being sacked from my job for past World Cups. Now, I get to watch it fresh and with the full approval of my employer."

This article was first published on May 26, 2014.
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