Cristiano Ronaldo, King of Turin, holds court at Yumin Primary School

Cristiano Ronaldo, King of Turin, holds court at Yumin Primary School

For most, July 4 may be best remembered internationally as the United States' Independence Day. To Singaporeans, it is perhaps just another day on the calendar.

But, for about 1,000 pupils from Yumin Primary School and neighbouring Chongzheng Primary School, it was a day they will never forget.

For 30 minutes, the pupils and teachers from both schools who packed Yumin's school hall yesterday were awestruck by Juventus and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 34-year-old was visiting the Tampines-based school in support of the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's appeal is universal - Ronaldo is the most followed individual on Instagram, with over 174 million followers.

And it showed.

When The New Paper arrived at the hall at 11.45am, the pupils were already cheering loudly, waiting eagerly in anticipation.

Roars erupted when they watched a video of Ronaldo's hat-trick for Portugal in the 3-1 win over Switzerland in last month's Nations League semi-final.

Some even bellowed "Siiii", a celebration that has become synonymous with Ronaldo.

And when he sashayed into the hall at 12.50pm, dressed in an all-white ensemble of a Nike T-shirt, shorts and sneakers, the decibels went up by a few notches.

Many of the pupils, who were from Primary 3-6, whipped out their smartphones to take pictures or videos, all the while chanting: "Ronaldo! Ronaldo!"

The icon would return the favour, in the form of high-fives to pupils in the front row.

There were also hugs for six lucky ones who went on stage to pose questions to the former Manchester United fan favourite.

No visit from a footballer would be complete without some time on the ball, and he happily obliged, showing off his tricks and flicks on stage as he juggled the ball with his legs, head and even balanced the ball on the back of his neck.

When it was time to answer questions from students, Ronaldo was on form.

Asked whether he had ever thought of quitting football when the going got tough, he responded in fluent English: "I started my journey as a footballer at 11 years old. It was very difficult, I cried sometimes, it was tough.

"After a few years, everything changed. I was 16 when I got my first professional contract.

"To be a football player is not easy. But any work is not easy if you don't work hard, and if you don't concentrate.

"But I never thought to quit this beautiful sport.

"Whatever you want to be - a football player or a doctor - just believe in your dreams, focus because everything is possible.

"Never give up, never quit, try and try."


This was not Ronaldo's first visit here. In 2013, he visited Crest Secondary School in Jurong East, also as a guest of the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship.

In 2017, he was also in town to visit Kim Lim - daughter of Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim - who had given birth.

Ronaldo, who scored 28 goals in 43 appearances during his debut season at Juventus to help them retain their Serie A crown, certainly left an indelible mark on the pupils.

Ibrahim Zaki, a Yumin Primary pupil who takes football as a co-curricular activity, said: "At first, I did not believe he was coming because there are some Singaporeans who don't even know the school.

"I admire him a lot and I am very happy to see him in person. This is a very special moment for me."

On his takeaway from the session, the Primary 6 pupil said: "I learnt to always focus, no matter how you feel. In the end, what matters is the result.

"Even though he is the best player in the world and 34, he is so fit and hardworking. I aspire to be like him one day.

"I play football a lot as a goalkeeper and I hope to be able to save one of his shots one day."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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