He is certainly not the first to say this but World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner Rivaldo too feels India should follow the ‘Japan model’ in order to improve the standard of football in the country.
Brazilian great Rivaldo, who is in the capital on a three-day tour, today visited a football clinic for young kids organised by Indian Super league (ISL) outfit Delhi Dynamos as part of its grassroots programme.
“It is very important that big names coming from overseas teach the young players here. It’s important they see the big stars train, observe them carefully, listen and learn from them.
“When Zico (Brazilian legend) was in Japan towards the end of his international coaching career, they recruited a lot of foreign players but, at the same time, the Japanese were also very dedicated and hard working and those qualities helped them learn quickly.
“Now they don’t need any foreign players. They have inculcated Zico’s philosophy and methodology and they are going along, playing in the World Cups. I hope this happens in India also,” Rivaldo said.
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Before him another Brazilian former star Dunga, Uruguayan great Diego Forlan and Zico himself had asked India to follow the Japanese model.
The 44-year-old former Barcelona and AC Milan star, who could play as an attacking midfielder, second striker and also winger, hung up his boots in 2015 after a glorious career both with his clubs as well as the national team.
Though it sounds far-fetched, Rivaldo was open to the idea of coaching in the Indian Super League in future.
“I have played in Uzbekistan, Angola and Greece as I always loved a challenge. This will be a new challenge for me and why not. If I have this opportunity I will be in Delhi Dynamos (smiles).”
He along with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho completed the famous trio in the 2002 World Cup.
On the Indian Super league, he said: “I hope the championships would change to six and seven teams, good days await you I believe. Like, teams will be more professional. India is a big country and if you work in a proper way you will find good players here.”
Rivaldo felt Neymar can become the world’s best player in a year’s time.
“Football has changed a lot in general. I hope Neymar can one day become the best. He is already creating history in Barcelona and also with the national team, if you look at the Rio Olympics. I think by next year Neymar can become the world’s best player. Also, like Neymar, everyone in Brazil is born with a dream to play for the national team and excel, so it’s not like Neymar’s is a different case.”
Ahead of the Rio Olympics, Rivaldo had urged people from across the world not to visit his country owing to poverty and corruption.
Asked about it and he reiterated , “The criminality in Brazil and politics is difficult to believe. Brazil has many problems and before hosting an Olympics or building a world-class international stadium, they need to spend on schools, hospitals and education, help the poor people because we have a lot of them back home.”
Talking about one his best phases with the national team in 2002 World Cup, Rivaldo said, “In the Brazilian side of 2002 on the left side there was Ronaldo and on the right there was Ronaldinho. For me it was historic. They were amazing players and that’s why the team was so good.”
Asked about the debacle against Germany in the semifinal of 2014 World Cup vis a vis the title triumph in 2002 under same coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, he said, “One person can’t be blamed for that. It is not like tennis. Felipe was a very important figure in 2002 and so were all the other players. For 2014, everyone should be held responsible and not just Felipe.”
About football today and then — in his heydays –Rivaldo said, “In my times quality of players was better and quantity too. Football has changed a lot. They talk of only 2 or 4 teams now — Real Madrid, Barcelona, and maybe Atletico de Madrid now.
“I played five seasons in Barcelona and it was very tough. Valencia, Deportivo de La Coruna were very good teams. The skill is something that everyone is born with. From Cristiano, Messi and Neymar, but you have to work really hard mentally and physically.”
Back in early 2000s, Rivaldo was part of the enviable 3R’s of Brazilian football, which stunned the world with their attacking talent. Asked to compare the 3Rs with present day MSN — Messi, Suarez and Neymar of Barcelona, Rivaldo said: “It was an honour to be part of the 3R group. Times have change and new players will come in but I think my history as part of 3Rs will stay on. There is no comparison.”
Rivaldo also feels now-a-days Neymar is crucial to Brazil’s success in international tournaments. “For Brazil Neymar is the most important player. When he doesn’t play we miss him. So for all Brazilians Neymar is most important player,” he said.
Asked whom he looked upto growing up, Rivaldo said legendary Zico is someone whom he idolised. “When I was young I saw a lot of Zico. It was amazing to see how Zico played and I feel watching his game made me Rivaldo,” he said.
When any Brazilian or Argentine football legend is on the other side, one question is certain — who is better Pele or Diego Maradona? “It is a very tough question. I respect Maradona a lot but Pele is also a legend like Maradona and he too is a Brazilian. So I can’t choose one. Both are greats of football for me,” Rivaldo answered.