Update: 08:20 | 09/04/2022
David Beckham was so astonished by Tran Gia Hung, who juggled the ball over 2,500 times with his feet, that he decided to give the kid an autographed football.
Hung, 8, is currently in third grade at an elementary school in Thach Ha District of the central Ha Tinh Province. His meeting with Beckham came from a challenge by Mai Van Tho, sales manager of an insurance company.
Tran Gia Hung poses with his football in his front yard in Ha Tinh Province.
Tho said in March, he watched Hung’s ball juggling videos online and contacted his dad, who is Tho's friend, and told him that if Hung can juggle the ball 2,222 times, he'll get a special present.
Hung accepted the challenge and trained every day. After a week, he exceeded the goal and jugged the ball more than 2,500 times.
Tho was so surprised he still hadn't thought of a present. When Hung's dad said his son wanted a pair of football boots, Tho ordered them for the boy.
"But I wanted to give him something bigger than that," Tho said.
During that time, Tho's company was organizing an event for Covid-19 relief to choose 10 people in the country for a trip to the famous Son Doong Cave. This event saw the participation of the company's ambassador – former football star David Beckham.
That sparked Tho to put Hung in contact with Beckham to share his passion for football and show off his skills of ball juggling.
"The company's communications department supported the idea and agreed to arrange a few minutes in the meeting for Hung to show his talent," Tho said.
On March 21, Beckham was introduced to Hung and watched him perform via live stream. After witnessing Hung's competent ball juggling and controlling skill, Beckham was surprised.
"Wow that's amazing. He's so good with both feet as well. Right foot, left foot. It's really good control. Also, I have a special surprise for you. So I signed this football, and I'm going to send it over to you as a gift, so you can use this one. And I look forward to meeting you and playing some football with you one day when I'm in Vietnam. That would be nice. Good luck, keep practicing and never stop working. Always practice," Beckham told Hung.
Hung said that when he heard that he would get the chance to interact with Beckham, he was so happy that he couldn't sleep and counted the days. At first, he was a little nervous and worried during the live stream. But with added support, he regained his composure and performed well.
"I'm waiting every day to receive Beckham's autographed ball," Hung said.
Hung is a fan of Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. In Vietnam, he supports V. League club Hoang Anh Gia Lai and dreams of becoming a great player in the future.
Tran Van Tho, Hung's father, said no one in his family followed a football career. From a young age, Hung often followed him to the football fields in the neighborhood, where he developed a passion for the game.
"On my 6th birthday, my father gave me a football. Since then, every time I come home from school, I always spend a few hours practicing my juggling and controlling skills," Hung said.
At first, the boy practiced juggling the ball with his right foot, then later practiced more with his left. The number of successful jugs with both of his feet started to increase from a few dozen times and then up to 1,000 in early 2022. Noticing Hung's skills improving day by day, his father recorded videos of his practices and uploaded them to social media, attracting a lot of views, interactions and shares.
Ho Sy Phuc, Ha Tinh youth football coach, said that Hung has joined the provincial football club for nearly a year now and his ability to juggle the ball with two feet is the best compared to his classmates and those in the same age group.
"Hung just learned to play in the midfielder and striker positions. His skills are good and if he trains hard, he will develop more," Phuc said.