THE NEW PAPER
19 NOVEMBER 2014
The mission was to get the Beckhams to meet. In the end, it was a roaring success.
Local actress Pan Ling Ling’s love affair with football superstar David Beckham began in the 90s, after she was struck by the midfielder’s skills on the pitch.
So when she gave birth to her firstborn 15 years ago, she named him Beckham, as a fitting tribute to her football hero
After a few days of careful planning, her dream for her son and idol to meet came true on Sunday, at Great World City mall.
The celebrity footballer was having dinner with a few of Pan’s good friends, who kindly offered to let her crash the meal.
But she wanted the meeting to be unforgettable, so she planned two extra touches: First, for the encounter to be a surprise for her son.
Second, she would use the opportunity to get a customised jersey signed for actor and friend, Chew Chor Meng, who was celebrating his birthday on the same day. He is also a long-time fan of Beckham.
Pan, 44, who sounded heady with excitement, told The New Paper over the phone: “I wanted it to be a big surprise, so I lied to my son that we were going to meet with a local footballer.
“But when he saw that (the meeting) was a particular Japanese restaurant at Great World City that David likes to eat at when he’s in Singapore, he knew.
“Beckham is a huge fan of David’s, just like me and (my husband).
“I’m so happy that he finally got to meet him!”
Beckham, 15, a student at Hwa Chong Institution, called meeting the football star an “incredible experience”.
“When I guessed that we were going to meet David, I got so nervous.
“I begged my mum for breath mints and went to the toilet to do my hair before going up to David.
“I asked him for a hug and he agreed. He’s really friendly and nice.”
Beckham was in town over the weekend to help Marina Bay Sands launch its Christmas celebrations.
The 39-year-old, who is also a Sands ambassador, helped turn on the Christmas lights for the integrated resort in a ceremony at the skating rink on Saturday evening.
To meet Beckham, Pan left an ongoing birthday party for Chew, which his wife and cast members of local Channel 8 drama 118 had organised for him.
“I told (my son) that he was to get a footballer to sign on a jersey for Uncle Chor Meng and he happily agreed.
“At the end of the night, I succeeded. Not only did my son meet his idol, Chor Meng was so touched after we returned to his dinner and passed him his present.”
This is the second time this year that Pan has met Beckham.
She met him in September when he was in town for an event promoting Scotch whisky Haig Club.
Her friends arranged for her and her actor-husband Huang Shinan to join the dinner with Beckham.
The meeting took place at the same Japanese restaurant at Great World City.
She even managed to snag a kiss from him.
“David kissed me! I still can’t believe such a wonderful thing happened.
“My husband told me to just go for it and not care about him for that night. So I did.”
After finding out that Pan named her elder son after him, David Beckham also recorded a video for the teenager, encouraging him to study hard.
Asked how he felt growing up with a famous namesake, the teenager’s voice filled with pride as he replied that he loved the experience.
He said: “Sure, I was teased a lot when I was younger, the other kids used to call me Back Ham.
“But it’s a glorious name and it brings a lot of attention from people.
“When I think of what my mum has done for me, I feel so lucky to be born in this family.”
He added: “Soccer is the number one sport for me.
Although he is named after the famous footballer, he does not have to contend with expectations to play the beautiful game well.
“No one expects me to play it well because of my name though, so I just have a lot of fun with it.”
IMAGES: THE NEW PAPER