Brazil’s World Cup winning defender Lucio, who currently plies his trade at ISL franchise FC Goa, says the FIFA U-17 World Cup next year will be a great opportunity for India to make a mark on the global football scene.
Lucio has spent two seasons at FC Goa as its marquee player. According to the former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan star, India is on the verge of making significant strides on the footballing front, and the U-17 World Cup will certainly speed up the process.
“With some of the world’s best young talent set to land up on these shores, it’s bound to help the development of the sport within the country. India could be getting a first-hand look at some of the biggest footballing names in the years to come and it’s a great opportunity for India as hosts,” Lucio, who made 105 appearances for Brazil, told PTI.
Familiar with the state of football in India, Lucio said that the youth World Cup is “a huge tournament that has global exposure and will have a lot of viewership and interest”.
The Brazilian U-17 team won the inaugural BRICS tournament in India comfortably, but Lucio thinks it would be premature to call them the favourites.
“Brazil have a good team and will always be a tough match for any opposition. But there will also undoubtedly be several other teams who are bound to have some very talented squads,” he said.
Elaborating on why Brazil consistently produces talented players and plays the role of a strong football culture and heroes, Lucio added, “Football is something that plays a colossal part in the Brazilian culture. Throughout the years, we have had significant numbers of players represent the team who have gone on to become global icons and they certainly do act as great motivation for the younger players.
“With such as rich footballing history and being such a big country, there are bound to be some great footballers come through”.
Lucio, who won three Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and two Seria A titles with Inter Milan, said there wasn’t any “magic formula” which others could not imitate and get ahead.
He explained, “It’s important to start developing footballers from a grassroots level and provide them with proper facilities to train. And coaching education is important as well. The kids need to have the right guidance in their steps to becoming a professional footballer.”
Lucio concluded by speaking about the importance of playing a youth world championship in the long run.
He said, “Experience is all important. To be able to play in a global tournament, against some of the best players in the world of the same age group is a unique adventure. The added pressure of having to perform while wearing the national jersey can add great value to a player’s experience and will stand them in good stead for the future. It will accustom them to the life of a professional footballer and give them great exposure.”