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Saturday August 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday August 10, 2013 MYT 10:31:03 AM
by ashreena pillai
KUALA LUMPUR: Dreams do come true. This is especially so for Muhammad Syafiq Salmi after getting a surprise visit by Barcelona’s Neymar at his home in Ampang yesterday – the second day of Hari Raya.
And it was all part of an elaborate plan to surprise Syafiq, 15, who is regarded as one of Malaysia’s up-and-coming juniors.
The Victoria Institution (VI) student has been a longtime admirer of 21-year-old Neymar, even since his FC Santos days.
“I was in my room minding my own business when I saw three vans pull up. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be Neymar!” said Syafiq.
“He came in and said ‘Where’s Syafiq?’ I was in shock. I was floored! I’ve seen him on TV and now here’s Neymar in my house! It was unbelievable! This is by far the best Raya ever!”
Syafiq, who dreams of representing Harimau Malaya one day, then hopped into the van with Neymar as they headed over to VI.
The two spent time talking about Neymar’s family, hobbies and even his shoe size. “He wears size 8½!” said Syafiq.
He described the Brazilian as “down to earth and friendly”, adding that it was thrilling just talking to him.
“He even gave me pointers on dribbling and finishing,” said Syafiq, who led Kelab Bolasepak Remaja Bersatu to three 1Malaysian Cardiff City titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as guiding VI to the MSSKL State Championship this year.
When Neymar asked Syafiq what he feared most, the youngster replied that it was facing bigger opponents.
“Then he told me, ‘Look at me, I’m not that big either but I’m not afraid to play my own game, my own style’. He also told me to strive hard to realise my dream of representing Malaysia.”
At the school, Syafiq’s friends were delighted by Neymar’s visit.
The Catalans are set to wrap up their 2013 Asian Tour with a match against the Malaysian XI at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
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