My love for football started in 1998. Till then, I wasn't much aware about the game or the players associated with it. It’s ironic that my love for the game started during the most difficult days of my life. I was admitted in the Sree Chitra Institute for a Neuro surgery then. Reading was the only thing which kept me engaged. My mom used to get me too many magazines in order to avoid boredom. I should say that my reading habit got developed so. Among all the magazines, sports magazines were my favorite one’s. Each magazine had different football stories to tell. To a 10 year old boy who admired only cricket like any other Indian, this was entirely a new and informative experience. The only players I knew till then were like Pele, Maradona etc.! Then my world got wider and was introduced to players like Garrincha, Andre Escobar, Lothar Matthaus, Gabriel Batistuta, Dennis Bergkamp, Di Baggio, Romario, Zico, Higuita etc. (a few among the players I got familiar with) ! However, every magazine had a lot to discuss on one particular team and a player. It’s not difficult to guess that the team was Brazil. Everyone had a lot to tell about the samba style of football. What about the player? Not at all difficult. He is considered as one of the best strikers of all time. The man with
I had a special liking towards him. Don’t think it’s because of his talent, because I have never seen him play. Thanks to the surgery, we both had a shaved head in common! I hated to lose my hair. But after seeing Ronaldo, I understood that being bald had a charm too! From all those magazines and terrific history of football triumphs, I was already in love with the Brazilian football team. I used to get score updates from my mom and cousins. I was very much happy with the way Brazil was going forward. Even I used to discuss about the game with one of my doctors. I was on cloud nine when Brazil got into the world cup finals. And luckily, I got discharged 2 days before the finals. The fact that I could see the finals live made me immensely happy, probably the first full length match I was going to watch in my life.
However, all my hopes got dashed when dad asked me to sleep early, so that I avoid getting strained. I went to sleep with a heavy heart. But, God was always on my side that days. I woke up during the match and came to watch it. Luckily, his time dad didn't come up with any objection. However, the game still remains as one of the most tragic experience for me. A spirited French team led by the legendary Zinedane Zidane destroyed Brazil 3-0. Ronaldo was nowhere near to his talent. It was so heartbreaking to see a shattered Brazilian team on the ground. The French supporters in our house were ecstatic. To add to the misery, there was a hoarding at Medical College which showed Brazil 0 – 3 France. I had to see this whenever I went for a checkup! I had already started hating the French team by then. All I wanted was the Brazil team to win the 2002 world cup.
In 2002, all my dreams came true. Brazil won the world cup and Ronaldo was at his top notch form, ended the campaign as the leading goal scorer. What made me really happy was the elimination of the French team in 1st round itself! So 1998 tragedy got covered up somehow. In 2006, Brazil and France had a clash at the quarter finals. Even though I wanted Brazil to win, one man really changed the game with his charming skills. Once again Zinedane Zidane defeated Brazil. However, this time I was really happy seeing the way he played, the talent he possessed. The man I hated the most after 1998 world cup had already become my most favorite footballer at his time in Real Madrid. Sadly, his last game for France ended as another tragedy. The next world cup is coming in a year, and that too in Brazil! There won’t be a Ronaldo anymore; Or the presence of Ronaldhino ‘falling leaf’ kick or mighty Roberto Carlos. I’m not that impressed about the current Brazilian team, but I still wish and hope that Neymar & friends brings the cup back! But, no football lover or Brazilian can forget the 1998 debacle. With all the fond and sad memories, let’s wait for the whistle to blow in Brazil.