Velez to meet ex-clubmate
Long time no see, buddy.
Those will be the words uttered by Singapore Selection forward Nicolas Velez when he greets Juventus' attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra before their match at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The duo played alongside each other in the Under-18 team of Argentinian giants River Plate, and, while their careers might have taken them down radically different paths, fate has brought them back together in Singapore.
"I talked to Pereyra earlier this week," said Velez, who plays for Warriors FC in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League.
"We are looking forward to meeting each other because it has been three or four years since he left Argentina to go to Italy.
"Now we have the chance to see each other again."
Velez and Pereyra played together in a River Plate youth team that also featured current Tottenham Hotspur star Erik Lamela.
Pereyra managed to make the breakthrough to the Los Millonarios' first team in 2009, and within two years, earned a move to Italian side Udinese.
After making more than 100 Serie A appearances, Juventus came calling and snapped the midfielder up on a year-long loan last month, with an option to sign at the end of the upcoming season.
Velez decided to leave River Plate in search of first-team football, and joined another top-division Argentinian team, Huracan.
He then moved across the Atlantic to Spanish third-tier team Atletico Sanluqueno, before joining the Warriors at the start of the year.
The 24-year-old South American has been in blistering form for the S.League giants, scoring 14 goals in 18 games, and is currently the competition's joint second-best scorer.
He is eager to prove he still has what it takes to mix it with old pal Pereyra and the stars of Juventus.
"Since I started playing football, I always dreamt of playing against the biggest stars in football," he said.
"Now I have the chance."
Apart from Pereyra, Juventus boast another Argentinian star - Carlos Tevez.
Velez says he still cannot wrap his head around the fact he could come face to face with one of his footballing heroes.
"When I was a child, I looked up to Tevez as one of my idols," said the 1.74m-tall striker.
"For me, he is among the top three Argentinian players now, and he should have been at the World Cup.
"I can't believe I might be sharing the same pitch with him."
Lest one thinks Velez is content to play the role of fanboy on Saturday, the player insists he has other ideas.
"There will be three Argentinians on Saturday, two playing for Juventus and one for Singapore," he said.
"So, if among the three of us, I can perform the best, that would be excellent.
"Singapore has given me a chance to play at a good team with Warriors, and the chance to play in a big match like this. I want to give back.
"I hope we can play a good game. It won't be easy but I hope we can surprise."
Ticket prices for Singapore Selection v Juventus* Cat 1: 10,000 seats - $180 Cat 2: 10,000 seats - $110 Cat 3: 16,000 seats - $70 Cat 4: 16,000 seats - $45 * There will be 3,000 complimentary tickets for the match For patrons under 16 years of age, tickets are priced from $30 to $45.
Ticket prices stated do not include promotional discounts.
Fans have a chance to win exclusive access to a Juventus training session by purchasing 11 tickets at one time.
Tickets can be purchased at Sports Hub Tix (www.sportshubtix.sg)