Fans' Frank confession a pivotal life experience

Gary Teo and Grace Tan were married in 2008, four years after Teo spilt a can of beer over her while celebrating during Euro 2004.
Gary Teo and Grace Tan were married in 2008, four years after Teo spilt a can of beer over her while celebrating during Euro 2004. PHOTO: GARY TEO

When Frank Lampard scored the extra-time equaliser for England in the Euro 2004 quarter-final match against Portugal, it almost wrecked the night for football fans Gary Teo and Grace Tan but nonetheless created a beautiful ending.

Lampard's goal levelled the game at 2-2 but England eventually ended up losing the game 6-5 on penalties. But it was something else that left a sour taste in mouths of these two England supporters.

When Teo leapt in jubilation to celebrate Lampard's late equaliser, he spilt a can of beer over Tan, his then-colleague at GP Batteries. Even worse, he thought the mishap had all but blown the final whistle on his courtship.

"It was embarrassing and I felt terrible then," recalled Teo, 38, of the incident at an outdoor live screening at Clarke Quay.

"She said that I was clumsy, and I could see from her facial expression that she was irritated.

"This one (the incident) spoilt her impression of me, even before we were attached, and it's a moment I cannot forget.

"And in a way, I'd thought that maybe after that, she would not want to go out with me any more."

But Teo refused to give up. And even though England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, the pair's relationship blossomed and they tied the knot that year.

The couple are now parents to four-year-old twins, son Gabriel and daughter Gabrielle.

"Thankfully, she did not put that matter in her heart after that night," said Teo, now a corporate affairs manager at Fuji SMBE. Tan, 39, is a senior quality assurance manager at Sembcorp.

Teo's unforgettable encounter was one of the 84 entries received so far in the ongoing The Straits Times-Komoco contest to send one reader to Euro 2016.

To stand a chance of winning the top prize of a trip to France to catch three Euro 2016 matches, Singaporean football fans need to describe, in 100 words, which European Championship moment has had the biggest impact on them.

The winning reader will travel to Paris and Marseille from June 27 to July 3.

Travel, accommodation and costs for selected meals will be covered and the winner will get to watch one round-of-16 match and two quarter-final games.

The contest closes on Jan 15.


ALVIN CHIA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Fans' Frank confession a pivotal life experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe