Photos courtesy of Live! studios
While they are fierce rivals on the pitch, Rio Ferdinand and Sergio Aguero are far friendlier with each other off it.
Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand and Manchester City striker Aguero took a whirlwind trip around Singapore, taking selfies as part of the ‘SG Game On!’ challenge organised by SingTel and Samsung.
The phones never left the footballers’ hands, whether they were trying taiji moves or sampling hawker food.
They also tried speaking Singlish and had a showdown on football skills.
The challenges were earlier determined by fans who tweeted with the hashtag #SGGameOn, in the run-up to the players' arrival in Singapore.
After each challenge on Thursday, the footballers posted selfies on their respective Twitter accounts, and the person with the most retweets would win ‘SG Game On!’.
After a jam-packed day of selfie action, Ferdinand emerged as winner, garnering a total of 3,392 retweets. Here’s a play-by-play of the various challenges.
CHALLENGE 1: SINGLISH
The first selfies of the day were taken by Sergio Aguero (left) and Rio Ferdinand (right) during their Singlish challenge
Kiitted out in their respective rival colours of red (Ferdinand) and blue (Aguero), they started the day’s proceedings at Chevron House in the Raffles Place financial district for a Singlish challenge.
At the start of the day, Ferdinand’s take on the rivalry between the two was simple. “We respect each other and keep it all on the pitch.”
He added: “I’m not sure about how I’m going to fare (for 'SG Game On!'), but we’ll see! We’re both competitive people.”
Ferdinand correctly identified Singlish phrases such as "chope" (to reserve) and "kayu" (blockheaded or stupid) during the challenge. But it was eventually Aguero's picture that garnered more retweets.
CHALLENGE 2: TAIJI
Accompanied by a troupe of taiji masters, the footballers tried the slow, deliberate movements of the Asian physical and spiritual exercise, in the blazing hot sun outside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown.
The taller Ferdinand didn’t get quite as much bend in his knees, while Aguero took to the moves easily.
FANS ON THE TRAIL
Fans also got in on the action, tirelessly trailing the football stars around the city as they moved from stop to stop. Some of these followers were rewarded with autographs and pictures with the footballers.
From left to right: Nelson Zheng, Helmi Yassin, Mohd Alim and "Pound" are Manchester City supporters who managed to meet their hero, Sergio Aguero (Photo: Anjali Raguraman)
Nelson Zheng and his friends all took the day off work to follow Sergio Aguero around Singapore. They were also at the airport the night before to welcome him when he landed.
“We love Aguero! We managed to get selfies and got him to sign our stuff,” Zheng said. They were excited that the striker was in Singapore so soon after winning the English Premier League with Manchester City on Sunday.
Though Aguero signed a four-year contract extension with City last season, he has always been linked to big-name clubs, namely Real Madrid. “We hope that Aguero will stay at Manchester City,” Zheng added.
From left to right: Ngau Kai Yan, Francis Law and Amanpreet Singh are Manchester United supporters who managed to get Rio Ferdinand's autograph (Photo: Anjali Raguraman)
Ngau Kai Yan, Francis Law and Amanpreet Singh, all students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, had a lucky break during their e-learning week and took the time off to trail Rio Ferdinand.
The avid Manchester United supporters managed to get autographs from Ferdinand. But they were also excited to see Aguero in action.
“Aguero is an amazing player and we respect him. But Manchester is still red,” Law quipped.
CHALLENGE 3: HAWKER FOOD
The footballers sampled local cuisine at Maxwell Food Centre for their third challenge, gamely going for durian and beancurd dishes. “Carrot cake was my favourite,” Ferdinand revealed at a press conference later in the day. “Sergio looked like he hadn’t eaten breakfast and was eating quick!” he joked.
The footballers tucked into local favourites such as durian and carrot cake, all with a side of fresh coconut juice
Aguero even exclaimed that durian was his favourite.
Whether they truly liked the dishes or not, they were all smiles and gave the thumbs-up for the cameras.
CHALLENGE 4: FOOTBALL SKILLS
Then it was time to test their talents with the backyard game of 'Keepy Uppy’ at the Singapore Flyer, where the footballers had a friendly competition to see who could keep their ball up in the air longer.
After three rounds, Ferdinand managed an effortless one minute, seven seconds, while Aguero (who is 10 years younger than Ferdinand) kept losing the ball despite his best efforts.
Throughout the challenges, the footballers exchanged fist bumps and high-fives, proving that this particular Manchester rivalry was all just in good fun.
'SG Game On!' continues on Friday 16 May with a football carnival at Chevron House from noon to 2pm. It will be the best chance for fans to get up close with the footballers if you missed out on Thursday's activities.
At the street carnival, the footballers will take part in a series of football-themed challenges. Fans will also be able to get their hands on exclusive privileges on SingTel products and services.