Football: Retail therapy for Di Maria and Argentina team-mates ahead of flight home

[…]Above: A Singaporean fan's clipboard filled with coveted autographs from players of the Argentinian team. Left: Argentinian winger Angel di Maria about to depart in a bus heading from Fullerton Hotel to Changi Airport[/…] last night.
Argentinian winger Angel di Maria about to depart in a bus heading from Fullerton Hotel to Changi Airport last night.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN, JOHN PRAVIN
[…]Above: A Singaporean fan's clipboard filled with coveted autographs from players of the Argentinian team. Left: Argentinian winger Angel di Maria about to depart in a bus heading from Fullerton Hotel to Changi Airport[/…] last night.
A Singaporean fan's clipboard filled with coveted autographs from players of the Argentinian team.ST PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN, JOHN PRAVIN

Simon Baxter and his wife were taking an afternoon stroll at Collyer Quay yesterday, when he got a bonus they did not bargain for when they decided to make Singapore their honeymoon destination.

For walking right past him was Angel di Maria and his fellow Argentinian footballers, all of whom had just finished posing for photos with the iconic Singapore skyline as the backdrop.

Baxter, 28, quickly seized the opportunity to snap a photo with the Paris Saint-Germain winger and his team-mates, who had beaten the Singapore national side 6-0 in a friendly on Tuesday.

The Northern Irishman, who had gotten married three days earlier, told The Straits Times: "I recognised him as he went past and I whipped out my phone to take a photo. It was nice, I haven't seen a football star on the street like that. I didn't even know they were in Singapore actually. It's a really memorable honeymoon."

Argentina, who had arrived in Singapore last Saturday ahead of Tuesday's friendly, finally got to relax yesterday, before leaving Singapore late last night.

And they did so by doing what most tourists do here - shop.

A handful, such as Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi, reportedly flew off earlier in the morning.

Those who stayed behind, such as di Maria and Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, proved keen on exploring Singapore's shopping scene as they were spotted leaving the Fullerton hotel and returning hours later with multiple shopping bags.

They also went for a stroll round Raffles Place and reportedly had lunch at Ce La Vi at Skypark.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Randall Lee, 17, who was eagerly waiting to catch his idol, struck gold as he ran into the 29-year-old di Maria at the hotel lobby.

Speaking of his dream encounter, he said: "I was over the top, extremely elated. He is one of the few players I idolise and it was a great joy to get his signature. I came and got what I wanted. It was amazing."

Those working at the Marina Bay Sands retail shops also could not contain their excitement when the footballers strolled by.

MBS Gift Shop's guest service agent Nur Azimah, 26, was reduced to tears as she saw the Argentinians walk by. She said: "I was so shocked. I thought they were going somewhere else because they came (to MBS) on Saturday. I just wish I could have talked to them, but I can't, I'm working.

"It was so close, yet so far."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Retail therapy for di Maria and Argentina team-mates'. Print Edition | Subscribe