Article

Singapore school pumps up security for Beckham visit

27 July 2001 15:32

SINGAPORE, July 26 (AFP) - "David Beckhamania" forced a Singapore school to run a security check on all 1,600 students Thursday to ensure there were no fake pupils when the Manchester United star held a two-hour coaching clinic.

They found one imposter who had borrowed a friend's uniform to get in. Victoria Junior College closed its gates to parents and the public at 8:00 am, six hours before Beckham's arrival.

Students who were late had to show an identification card before they were allowed into the school.

The appearance of the English champions Manchester United in

football-fanatical Singapore this week has been surrounded by ultra-strict security to ensure the players were not mobbed.

But not everyone at Victoria Junior College was a Beckham worshipper.

Despite Manchester United dominating newspapers and television for weeks in the lead up to their arrival, Victoria Junior college principal Lee Phui Mun admitted she only recently learned of Beckham's superstar status.

"I don't follow sports so while I've heard of David Beckham and Manchester United, I didn't know that he's so famous!" the 61-year-old said.

Sixteen uniformed police officers were deployed at the school "to make sure there would not be a stampede", a spokesman for Beckham's sponsor Adidas said.

Only official pupils, teachers and approved media personnel were allowed into the grounds.

"We did not want to allow other people into the school as there would be no way to stop the floodgates after that," a teacher said, as security guards kept dozens of outsiders from climbing the fence.

Before before being swept away by his army of minders after a two-hour clinic, Beckham had his footprints cast in blocks of cement.

"We will put them in the school archives," school football coach Tan Yew Hwee said.

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