Football: EPL champions Chelsea first to arrive as ICC fever hits Singapore

Arrival of Chelsea players at The Ritz-Carlton in Singapore. ST VIDEO: ALVIN CHIA
Chelsea players arrive at The Ritz-Carlton on Sunday (July 23) morning.
Chelsea players arrive at The Ritz-Carlton on Sunday (July 23) morning. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabragas waves at fans.
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabragas waves at fans. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Chelsea defender David Luiz gives a thumbs-up.
Chelsea defender David Luiz gives a thumbs-up. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Chelsea fans hoping for a glimpse of their idols at The Ritz-Carlton.
Chelsea fans hoping for a glimpse of their idols at The Ritz-Carlton. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Chelsea's new signing Morata is first to arrive ahead of team-mates, Bayern and Inter

There was a brief but frenzied commotion at Changi Airport Terminal One yesterday, when Chelsea's newest signing arrived ahead of this week's International Champions Cup (ICC) Singapore tournament.

Signed from Real Madrid on Friday in London for £58 million (S$102.7 million), Spanish striker Alvaro Morata flew straight into Singapore to join up with his new team-mates, who arrived early this morning after beating Arsenal 3-0 in a friendly in Beijing.

A patchwork of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Spain jerseys greeted the 24-year-old when he arrived, with about 40 fans surrounded him for autographs and wefies, as he duly but quietly obliged.

Boyhood Chelsea fan Fairuz Jeffry was one of the lucky few who managed to get an autograph from Morata on his shirt, and the 24-year-old personal trainer said: "I can't believe my luck. We were the last to arrive but I was one of the first to get an autograph."

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Morata did not speak to the media before being whisked away by his entourage after about 10 minutes, but it was evident that football fever is descending upon Singapore, at least for the next week of ICC Singapore festivities.

Organisers of the pre-season tournament must have been counting their lucky stars when two of the three participating clubs became champions of their domestic leagues last season, which in turn stoked up interest in the event.


Chelsea's newest signing, £58 million (S$103 million) striker Alvaro Morata, signing autographs for fans after arriving at Changi Airport yesterday. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

While Bayern Munich were heavy favourites to land the German Bundesliga title, Chelsea's English Premier League triumph was more surprising, given their poor form in the previous season.

FIRST TO GET AUTOGRAPH

I can't believe my luck. We were the last to arrive but I was one of the first to get an autograph.

FAIRUZ JEFFRY , one of the lucky few Chelsea fans who managed to get an autograph from Alvaro Morata on his shirt.

Inter Milan complete the ICC line-up, and while they finished only seventh in the Serie A last season, the traditional Italian giants already have an established fan base in this region.

All this means is that fans of the three clubs have reasons to be in a celebratory mood as they eagerly await the matches, to be played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

While it remains to be seen if Morata will make his debut at the ICC Singapore, but fans are still looking forward to the prospect of catching other star players.

Said Chelsea Singapore Supporters Club president Carter Lee: "I think I speak on behalf of all Chelsea fans that we are very excited that our favourite team are finally here. It's really a huge honour for us to see them live, especially for those who can't travel to Stamford Bridge."

 

For Bayern fan club president Mohd Erfan Ahmid, the opportunity to watch the team in action in Singaporean is a dream come true.

The 42-year-old said: "I started this club 15 years ago and it was very hard because there was little interest in the Bundesliga or Bayern back then.

"It's been a long wait for this to happen. I never expected this."

Milan native Michele Zanell, who grew up watching Inter at the San Siro, is thankful for the chance to see his boyhood club in action once again after spending several years abroad.

"I usually watch on TV since I moved overseas but now I will get to watch them again live.

" I can't wait to see the players in action against other top teams in the world," said the 37-year-old general manager at La Barca Ristorante and Wine Bar.

Zanell is counting on Inter to lift the trophy: "I hope Inter will win, but I also hope that the whole event will be exciting.

"It is a one-of-a-kind event and is very good for Singapore as the top clubs are coming here."

This is the first time that the ICC is held in South-east Asia, and it will kick off on Tuesday with Chelsea facing Bayern.

Tickets are available from sportshubtix.com.sg

•Additional reporting from John Pravin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'ICC fever hits town'. Print Edition | Subscribe