Millions idolise him for every move he makes on the soccer pitch. So when 14-year-old Delhi boy Vedaant Nag met — yes, that’s right, ‘met’ — Cristiano Ronaldo, he couldn’t hold back tears of joy.
“He [Ronaldo] was standing right in front of me. And I just started crying,” says Vedaant. And what followed was purely magical. “On seeing me cry, Ronaldo came upto me hugged me,” said Vedaant, yet to come out of the moment. “He said ‘it’s ok, cheer up’. I started crying even more, he’s my God.”
It was a historic day in South Africa last Monday when, during the Portugal —North Korea match, six kids from India, winners of the Adidas-Hindustan Times contest, came out on the field as FIFA’s Fair Play flag bearers.
Vedant Nag, Abhiveer Arjun, Shubhro Bhattacharya, Sarfaraz Singh Lege, Sonu Mukesh and Hitansh still can’t believe their luck. “It was massive... unbelievable. There were 63,000 spectators in the packed stadium,” says Chandigarh-boy Sarfaraz, describing the atmosphere. “63,987,” Shubhro corrects him. All six confess that they had no time for the Korean players. “We were only looking Ronaldo and the Portugal team,” says Hitansh.
FIFA’s strict rules didn’t allow the boys to interact much with the players or take autographs. “I took 400 pictures, my camera memory was absolutely full,” says Mumbai-lad Sonu. Not just that, they have returned richer. “Adidas boots, FIFA tracksuits, caps… our suitcases are full with valuable World Cup mementos that we’ll treasure for the entire life,” says Shubhro.