Perseverance paid off for Geylang Methodist Secondary 2 student Daryl Chee yesterday.
The 14-year-old schoolboy, an ardent fan of the mighty Argentina football team, had shadowed the Albiceleste since their arrival in Singapore on Saturday evening.
And he finally got his reward yesterday when Paris St-Germain star Angel di Maria surprisingly stopped to sign some autographs for fans, including Daryl, after disembarking from the team bus at Bishan Stadium, where the team have been training for tomorrow's encounter with the Lions.
Showing off his autographed photograph of di Maria, Daryl, who had camped out at the stadium on Saturday evening with no luck, said: "Yesterday he waved at us but we didn't get his autograph. But today, we've got it.
"We were rejected a lot of times from the players and at times, we felt discouraged. I didn't expect him to sign. I'm happy that this time, he didn't ignore us."
Daryl was among the fans who turned up at Bishan Stadium yesterday, peeking through the fence and gates to try and catch a glimpse of their heroes training in a closed-door session.
WORTH THE WAIT
I didn't expect him to sign. I'm happy that this time, he didn't ignore us.
DARYL CHEE, schoolboy, whose perseverance paid off with di Maria.
Ew Chun Yee, a 21-year-old full-time national serviceman, also got autographs from Juventus' Paulo Dybala and di Maria. He said: "It was really crazy. Mauro Icardi nearly signed an autograph for me, his hand was going to take the marker from me but one of the guards pushed me away. Even though Lionel Messi is not here, even if I see just one star player like Dybala, it's still worth all the effort."
Five-time Player of the Year Messi left Singapore on Saturday night after making a brief stopover on his way from Melbourne - where Argentina beat Brazil on Friday in a friendly - to Barcelona.
His absence, together with that of Gonzalo Higuain and Nicolas Otamendi, angered some local fans who had bought tickets to tomorrow's game.
But the disappointing news was not enough to turn away some diehards, some of whom continued to stake out the Fullerton for hours yesterday.
Some even dozed off while leaning on the barricades, waiting to catch a brief glimpse of popular players like forward Dybala and goalkeeper Sergio Romero. But they were rewarded for their patience when the players returned from training and some, like Manchester United's Romero, signed autographs and posed for photos.
While the main players remained largely hidden from the public eye, some of the younger set, like Juventus star Dybala, 23, and River Plate's Lucas Alario, 24, took in some of the sights around the hotel during the day. Alario posted a photo of the two of them at the Merlion Park on social media.
Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi posted an InstaWeather snap showcasing the Singapore River that said: "Singapur, 29 deg C feels like 36 deg C."
Fans will be hoping that come tomorrow night, he and his team-mates will turn up the heat at the National Stadium and put up a sizzler of a performance.