At best, it lasted just 20 seconds. Or even less. Regardless of how fleeting it was, that precious glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo in Singapore was cherished by fans who saw him in town yesterday.
On a one-day stopover, the football superstar was largely elusive and was only snapped by the media at the beginning and end of his whirlwind trip.
The 32-year-old Portuguese was at Thomson Medical Centre in the morning to visit Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, whose daughter Kim had delivered a baby boy – the Valencia owner’s first grandchild – four days ago.
Kim, 25, who had married earlier but preferred not to publicly reveal the identity of her husband, posted on Instagram yesterday hinting that March 23 next year could be the wedding date.
In the evening, with information leaking out that the man also known as CR7 would have his dinner at Japanese restaurant Kuriya Dining, a media pack and a 20-strong platoon of fans – who quite literally stood the test of time for a sighting – gathered at Great World City.
For polytechnic student Kenny Ong, who waited for almost five hours before being rewarded with an autograph outside the restaurant, the occasion will be forever etched in his memory.
The 18-year-old said: “It’s really a dream come true to have met him and get the Real Madrid jersey signed. To be able to stand next to my idol is something I will cherish throughout my lifetime.”
Lim’s wife, former actress Cherie Lim, and Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Idris joined Lim and Ronaldo at Kuriya.
Although security patrolled the restaurant’s exits, a peek through the curtained glass walls showed that the footballer appeared adept at using chopsticks.
Arriving by private jet at Changi Airport Terminal 2 in the morning, the Portugal captain headed straight to Thomson Medical Centre at 10am, where he conveyed his well-wishes to the Lims.
Although he was quickly whisked through the lobby – which was packed with nearly 100 fans – by bodyguards and did not stop to interact with fans, it was still enough for one CR7 devotee.
Kelvin, a 17-year-old student who declined to give his full name, said: “I have been following Ronaldo since his Manchester United days and I have been waiting here since 9am.
“Although he didn’t sign my jersey, it was still an unbelievable experience to see him in person for the first time.”
Ronaldo was also in Singapore to sign a major endorsement deal brokered by Mint Media, a Hong Kong-based company owned by Lim that acquired the player’s image rights – apart from those related to Real – for six years in 2015. No further details on the deal were announced.
He departed on a private jet after dinner, heading to China where he will appear at Mint Media events in Beijing and Shanghai.
Like a shooting star, he was gone in a flash, but for Ronaldo’s adoring fans, it was enough.
• Additional reporting by Nicholas De Silva and John Pravin