RI boy gets surprise visit and gift from Valencia footballers

RI boy gets surprise visit and gift from Valencia footballers
Paco Alcacer presenting RI striker Jonathan Chua with a personalised jersey. The Valencia captain and five other former and current players paid him an unannounced class visit. Alcacer stressed that in football "you have to try and do the right thing".
PHOTO: Lázaro de la Peña / Valencia CF

When Raffles Institution's (RI) Jonathan Chua turned down a penalty awarded to his side in the Schools National A Division boys' football quarter-final against Anglo-Chinese Junior College last month, he did not expect anything in return for his act of honesty.

However, nearly a month after making that decision that earned him media attention and widespread praise, Jonathan received a big surprise yesterday. Six past and present Valencia players paid the striker an unannounced class visit.

Four of the club's current players - Paco Alcacer, Santi Mina, Jaume Domenech and Javi Fuego - joined Valencia greats and La Liga ambassadors Gaizka Mendieta and David Albelda to present the 18-year-old with a personalised Valencia jersey.

Valencia are owned by Singaporean billionaire and former RI boy Peter Lim.

At 11.30am yesterday, the doors to Jonathan's civics class swung open. Cue the gasps of amazement from the unsuspecting students.

Captain Alcacer, who sportingly removed his own jersey and gave it to Jonathan, said through a translator: "In football, you have to try and do the right thing... On this occasion, when the penalty was signalled, he went to the referee and told her that it wasn't.

"It was a very good act and you have to reward that kind of thing so that people see it.

"It's true that today it's difficult to find these situations in professional football because there is a lot of pressure for teams. I hope in the future these kind of situations will be something more usual."

Explaining the club's decision to surprise Jonathan, a Valencia spokesman said: "Sportsmanship and acts of fair play are sadly becoming uncommon, especially among the younger players. Valencia want to acknowledge, reward and promote Jonathan's (act of) fair play to encourage other young players."

After receiving a Valencia jersey with his name printed and getting the players' autographs on it, Jonathan said: "I was more shocked than anything else. I thought they were just visiting when I saw them. Only when they called me out did I realise what was going on."

As he posed for photographs with the pros, his classmates jokingly asked: "So are they signing Jonathan for the next season?"

Despite his honesty bringing him to national attention, the player was quick to play down the fanfare, saying: "I think that the fact that it (my actions) is so publicised shows that there is a lot of room for improvement in this area of sports.

"Integrity is worth more than the game no matter how important the game is. The game doesn't define who you are, but stick to your values, that's more important."

This article was first published on May 21, 2016.
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