Barbadian megastar Rihanna was brought to tears as she paid a personal tribute to one of the mentors in her life, West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick.
The renowned pop singer and business mogul was on hand at the Riverside on Monday to cheer on West Indies as they went down to Sri Lanka by 23 runs in their ICC World Cup contest.
She took time out to meet Estwick, a former teacher and longstanding cricket coach at Combermere School in Barbados which Rihanna attended.
“I love this man. I came here to see the match and was cheering West Indies to a victory,” the irrepressible 31-year-old said.
“They played great but we just didn’t make it. But I also wanted to see Mr Estwick. He made a lasting impact on my life and he really offered great advice to me and many others when we were at school at Combermere.
“I just wanted to let everyone know what he meant to me in my development and what he did for us back at school in Barbados.”
Estwick has had a hand in the development of several West Indies men’s and women’s cricketers who have emerged from Combermere, including T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite, Test vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Jomel Warrican, Shakera Selman as well as Chris Jordan, who currently represents England.
The invitation to attend the match came from Philip Spooner, the West Indies media manager, and Rihanna and several friends were able to witness a superb maiden international century by left-hander Nicholas Pooran.
He made 118 from 103 balls but West Indies came up short in their pursuit of 339, to slump to their sixth defeat of the World Cup.
Rihanna stood at the front of a hospitality box for most of the time, applauding every boundary and shouting her support.
Afterwards, she also met legendary former West Indies fast bowler, Joel Garner, who was also in attendance.
Captain Jason Holder said Rihanna’s presence had been valued, especially having travelled to north-east England to show her support.
“It was a pleasant surprise. It was great to see her here. I just want to personally thank her for coming out,” he said.
“I guess it’s not easy for a celebrity to come down to Durham to watch the West Indies play. But I’m sure the boys felt her presence in the stands and she came down to the dressing room as well and met quite a few of the players and that was also refreshing.”
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