Football

In love with Luiz

BIG PRIZE: Ren (in blue) and a friend showing the ball signed by David Luiz.

Just as the Brazil team boarded their bus at Changi Airport yesterday morning, a shrill cry pierced through the air at 
Terminal 2.

It was not one of distress, but rather, delight.

"He signed my ball!" shrieked Ren Hizon.

The 14-year-old from the Philippines was giddy.

Her beloved David Luiz had just scrawled his name on a football she had presented him.

When asked why the Paris St Germain defender was such an object of affection, Ren gushed: "He's just my life. He's really nice, really religious, I could go on and on.

"I gave him my letter and, in it, I wrote the reasons why I love him."

Her dad, who had accompanied her to the airport, chipped in: "She wrote it in Portuguese."

Ren proudly said that she had started learning the language because of Luiz.

Luiz, the world's most expensive defender after moving to the French giants from Chelsea for £50 million ($103m) this year, was one of Brazil's most prominent players at the Selecao's ill-fated World Cup campaign in June.

He combined erratic performances with eye-catching goals, and made a heartbreaking apology on Brazilian television after the team's stunning 7-1 thrashing at the hands of eventual winners Germany in an infamous semi-final.

Luiz looked in much chirpier mood yesterday, giving a thumbs up to the approximately 250 supporters who had gathered at the airport to welcome the team, wearing a snood to keep his trademark wild hair in check.

Even if he did not realise it then, he had already made Ren's day.