International Champions Cup: Football fever hits Singapore

Manchester United's Mason Greenwood (right) celebrating after scoring the only goal of the game against Inter Milan at the National Stadium last night. The match attracted a sold-out crowd of more than 52,000.
Manchester United's Mason Greenwood (right) celebrating after scoring the only goal of the game against Inter Milan at the National Stadium last night. The match attracted a sold-out crowd of more than 52,000.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Above: Spurs midfielder Dele Alli posing for a photo with fan Luca Goldie at his team's meet-and-greet event. Left: Inter Milan players making their way to the pitch at the National Stadium to face Manchester United. Juventus superstar Cristiano Rona
Spurs players leaving after their meet-and-greet event at Resorts World Sentosa yesterday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Above: Spurs midfielder Dele Alli posing for a photo with fan Luca Goldie at his team's meet-and-greet event. Left: Inter Milan players making their way to the pitch at the National Stadium to face Manchester United. Juventus superstar Cristiano Rona
Inter Milan players making their way to the pitch at the National Stadium to face Manchester United. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, JASON QUAH
Above: Spurs midfielder Dele Alli posing for a photo with fan Luca Goldie at his team's meet-and-greet event. Left: Inter Milan players making their way to the pitch at the National Stadium to face Manchester United. Juventus superstar Cristiano Rona
Spurs midfielder Dele Alli posing for a photo with fan Luca Goldie at his team's meet-and-greet event.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, JASON QUAH
Above: Spurs midfielder Dele Alli posing for a photo with fan Luca Goldie at his team's meet-and-greet event. Left: Inter Milan players making their way to the pitch at the National Stadium to face Manchester United. Juventus superstar Cristiano Rona
Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo acknowledging the fans at a training session at Bishan Stadium yesterday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Red Devils thrill fans at National Stadium; Juventus star Ronaldo a big draw at training

A goal, a win and a new hero.

It was a red-letter day for Manchester United fans as the English giants carved out a 1-0 win over Inter Milan at the National Stadium in the opening match of the International Champions Cup last night.

The Red Devils' supporters bathed the Singapore Sports Hub in a sea of red hours before the 7.30pm kick-off and were richly rewarded as 17-year-old substitute Mason Greenwood lashed home a shot from inside the box to send the faithful into raptures.

While United fan Gopal Shivanand felt "it's too early to say" if Greenwood could become a club legend, he believed the teenager "looks to be on the right path" and was pleased that "the youngsters played very well tonight, so it looks like a bright future ahead for United".

The match attracted a sold-out crowd of over 52,000, who besides being entertained by the football on show and their solidarity in song, also witnessed a marriage proposal in the crowd.

The hero worship did not stop there. Over at Bishan Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo and Italian champions Juventus enthralled a crowd of about 2,000.

The Portuguese star was the main draw during the team's hour-long training session. While all the five-time Ballon d'Or winner afforded the fans was a few waves of his hand and a thumbs-up as he trudged off the field, most were thrilled.

Businessman Albert Setyawan said: "I'd hoped to get photos or an autograph but this was a different experience. I've seen them play in games but never in training, so it was fun."

 
 

The Juventus fans' patience and persistence had been sorely tested in the morning when the team, whose flight had been delayed, arrived at their hotel nearly three hours late. Despite the heat, hundreds still queued, hoping to get a glimpse of their idols or more.

Fan Sean Lim said: "I've been here since 8am to get a good spot so I can get my jerseys signed. I wasn't able to catch him (Ronaldo) last year, so hopefully he'll finally sign my jersey."

Football fever also manifested itself in other parts of the island - regardless of whether the event was for commercial sponsors or for the public.

Juventus' apparel sponsor Adidas and Tottenham Hotspur sponsor AIA held functions at the Singapore Sports Hub and attracted a healthy number of supporters. Both clubs - who meet tonight - also drew large crowds at fan engagement events at Resorts World Sentosa.

Britons Luca Goldie, nine, and his father Ben have delayed their flight back home till tomorrow so that they can catch tonight's game.

Luca said: "I support the England team and Spurs with all my heart. Harry Kane is my favourite player and I am excited that I can see him on the pitch."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 21, 2019, with the headline 'Football fever hits S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe