Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's buggy chased by fans at Singapore Botanic Gardens

Deepanraj Ganesan
The Straits Times
June 2, 2023

Human chatter, the odd barks from dogs, calming vibrations of the mini water features and buzzing from cicadas – these are the usual sounds heard on regular days at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

But on Friday, there was an unfamiliar cry of “Siu” that reverberated around the area as more than 50 fans and about 200 beneficiaries of the NParks-Peter Lim Scholarship welcomed football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at Singapore’s first Unesco World Heritage Site.

“Siu”, which means “yes” in Spanish, has become the 38-year-old Portuguese forward’s iconic roar whenever he scores a goal.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who made a US$200 million (S$270.4 million) move to Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in January, is in town to support two youth scholarships funded by long-time friend and philanthropist Peter Lim, in what is dubbed a #BeSIUPER weekend.

On Friday, Ronaldo made a whirlwind, 15-minute appearance as he arrived in a grey top, black Nike shorts and black trainers shortly after 5.15pm, flanked by his entourage and security detail.

He was quickly ushered to a buggy which took him through the Gardens to the Peter Lim Tree, where he posed for a group photograph with the scholarship beneficiaries from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

His appearance was a quick one as he made an exit on the buggy in no time. There were no doorstop interviews, speeches or other interaction.

@fuzszy MET RONALDO IN SINGAPORE. I CAN FINALLY DIE PEACEFULLY #sgtiktok #ronaldo #cr7 #goat #sewy #suiiiiiiiiiiiiiii #singapore ♬ Ronaldo sewey - nerfspeed

Although details of his visit, such as the time and location, were not made available to the public, that did not stop resourceful fans from turning up with Al Nassr, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Portugal jerseys in hand.

Most of them, as well as some unsuspecting visitors to the Gardens, chased after the buggy that Ronaldo left in. Most had left disappointed, apart from a handful who managed to get Ronaldo’s autographs on their jerseys.

One of them was 27-year-old student Shakthi Balan, a lifelong United and Ronaldo fan, who had come with an Al Nassr top.

“This is a moment that I will never forget,” he said. “I had come here just hoping to catch a glimpse of my idol but to leave with a memento like this is a dream come true. It’s hard to describe what this means.”

Jovis Siew, 20, a second-year ITE College East student, said that while Ronaldo’s visit was over before he knew it, it was still worth the wait in the hot weather.

“Coming here and waiting under the sun was worth just to see him up close,” he said. “Those 20 seconds of him just posing for a photo at the tree and walking past me were surreal.”

A day before his visit, Ronaldo confirmed that he will continue playing in the Saudi Pro League, saying in an interview: “I am happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here.”

Ronaldo’s 14 goals in 16 league appearances were only enough for Al Nassr to finish second. Having previously said that the Saudi league can be one of the world’s top five, Ronaldo called on more “big players and big names” to join him.


The NParks-Peter Lim Scholarship is aimed at highlighting sustainability awareness and protection of the environment.

Local businessman Lim donated $10 million to start the scholarship in 2020 with the National Parks Board (NParks) to help deserving youth from less privileged backgrounds pursue their interests and develop their skills in landscaping, horticulture, ecology, veterinary and animal science.

It has since handed out 537 study awards worth $1.3 million to tertiary students.

The Peter Lim Tree, one of 10 trees in the Gardens dedicated to individuals, was named after him in honour of his contribution through this scholarship.

On Saturday, Ronaldo will meet over 1,000 young people to support another initiative, the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship, and take part in a game of padel at the Fun Fest event in the Marine Parade cluster.

The Straits Times

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