21 Jun 2018
Which teams are Elvin Ng, Joakim Gomez, Ian Fang and Pan Ling Ling rooting for?
For the uninterested, football is a sport about 22 grown men chasing after a ball in a huge pitch, but for diehard lovers of the sport, football is everything – they worship the ground their favourite players or teams play on, make it a point to watch all their matches (even at home ground) and are motivated by these players’ growth and transformation. With World Cup season hitting fever pitch soon (i.e. when the 16 strongest teams progress to the knockout stage starting from June 30), we speak to a couple of celebrities who are not-so-secret football fans and learn about their love for the sport.
21 Jun 2018
Favourite player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Biggest football moment: When he went to Old Trafford for the very first time to watch his first Manchester United game, he splurged on a VIP seat (599 pounds, approximately S$1,300) and had the full experience, from free-flow champagne and drinks to mingling with some of the club legends and getting a good view of the match on padded seats.
Joakim’s love affair with football started in 1997 when he was “intrigued” by the “aura” and “confidence” of a certain Manchester United player called Eric Cantona. He has been a loyal Man-U fan ever since and fondly remembers watching his first game in 2001, when the team was in Singapore to play against our local team (“Singapore even scored a goal against them!” he tells us). That said, nothing beats the experience he had at Old Trafford (he has seen three matches there so far) where he got up close and personal with some of his favourite players like Juan Mata Garcia (he has also met iconic football legends and players like Thomas Mueller, James Rodriguez and David Alaba in Singapore).
The avid football fan, who is rooting for Germany to bring home the cup this year (“it has always been the way since 1998 when I watched my first ever World Cup match), tells us he tries to catch all the World Cup matches. “What is sleep, right?” he chuckled. “Thankfully, I’m always in the office by two in the afternoon and the last game ends at 4am, so I’m able to get a good six to seven hours of sleep before I come in for an early lunch.” While his heart is with Germany, Joakim says his mind is on France to win the title this year, after seeing how the team performed from the Euro qualifications.”
Photos: Instagram/Joakim Gomez
21 Jun 2018
Favourite player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Biggest football moment: When he was invited to try for the national squad (under 16 and under 17) in Singapore when he was studying in Bendemeer Secondary School but didn’t pursue that opportunity as he was in Singapore to “study” and not “play soccer”.
Ian has the perfect excuse to watch all the World Cup matches this year – he has some spare time on his hands now that filming for his new Channel 8 drama Till We Meet Again recently wrapped and the hard core fan plans to do just that. During our phone interview with him, the diehard Cristiano Ronaldo fan (“I’m willing to eat his s***,” he tells us) analysed the player’s entire career like a knowledgeable football pundit.
“This is one man who can help his whole nation and team equalise a game with Spain (FYI: Ronaldo scored a hat-trick during Portugal’s opening game in the World Cup) and this is pure hard work. I’ve been supporting him since I was 18 years old. At 18, he was a sprinter and pacer, at 23 to 25 years old he was a winger, at 30 years old he was a striker and now at 33, he’s like an all-rounder. Many people think it’s the end of his era but I think it’s just the beginning for him,” he proudly quipped.
So which country is he rooting for this year? “I have my eye on Brazil, Belgium, France and Portugal. I make an effort to watch all the matches – I’m quite a hardcore football fan.”
21 Jun 2018
Favourite player: Eden Hazard
Biggest football moment: When he was in Secondary School, Elvin and his friends snuck into the Jurong East stadium to play football in the middle of the night. Their midnight shenanigans didn’t go unnoticed – a resident called the police and it resulted in a cat-and-mouse chase in the neighbouring blocks. Elvin even sustained a scar on his left wrist when he climbed over two fences to escape the venue.
Last year, Elvin had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders and meet players from his favourite English Premium League (EPL) team Chelsea, when the team was in Singapore for a friendly match. But that wasn’t his first time watching the men in blue play on the field. When he was much younger, he once took a bus to Kuala Lumpur with his pals just to catch them in action. Four years ago, on his birthday, he also watched them play against Aston Villa in England, where they thrashed the visitors 8-0 on home ground.
Naturally, it should come as no surprise that this avid football fan is cheering for Belgium to take home the cup this year – after all his favourite Chelsea player, Eden Hazard, is a Belgian. He adds, “They have very good players who are young and promising and I hope they will reach the semi-finals [of the World Cup]. A few other nations have very good potential too – the Spain vs. Portugal match was very exciting; Mexico was very impressive in their game against Germany and they are very good as a team; Belgium is not really a super power and they are an emerging team, so I'm supporting them.”
Photos: Instagram/Elvin Ng
21 Jun 2018
Pan Ling Ling
Favourite player: David Beckham
Biggest football moment: When she dined with Beckham himself at a restaurant in Singapore with her family at the invitation of former actress and BFF Cherie Lim, and finally had the opportunity to introduce her son to the famous player he was named after.
Ling Ling’s decision to name her eldest son ‘Beckham’ bears testament to her admiration and adoration for English football player David Beckham. The actress became a fan of the midfielder in the 1990s and was lucky enough to have met her idol twice in 2014 when he was in Singapore for two different work events. Her second meeting with David was extra special as her son finally got to meet the man he was named after, too.
Although she isn’t fervently watching World Cup matches due to her packed filming schedule, Ling Ling says she keeps tabs on her favourite team’s performance (“It’s Croatia, I really like them”), watches match highlights and knows enough to rave about the stunning free kick goal scored by Serbia in their game with Costa Rica last Sunday night. “The ball is round [and this goes to show] the world is round. If they are able to score with such a penalty kick, what else is impossible?!” said the actress, who animatedly gestured how the goal was done.
Photo: Instagram/Pan Ling Ling