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How Brazil made me lose: Padukone

The badminton legend shares his passion for soccer with Saji Chacko.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 02:08 IST

I remember following the 1982 World Cup in Spain very closely. I had shifted my base from India to Denmark a year ago and was caught up in the soccer frenzy that engulfed Europe. Since Denmark had qualified for the finals, the entire nation’s focus was on the World Cup.

But from the very beginning, I found myself drawn towards Brazil. I found their style of game very artistic.

In Zico and Socrates, I thought they had two of the finest players who made football look so simple and delightful. They just seemed to weave circles around the rival defence.

I simply could not have enough of them. I was never tired watching them.

And suddenly, it all went wrong. My team -- Brazil -- despite all their attacking prowess, were beaten by a technically supreme Italians.

Strangely, that remains one of the most disappointing moments of my life outside badminton. I remember praying fervently for Brazil each time they went a goal down. But despite pulling things back to 2-2, it was Paolo Rossi who dumped them with his third goal.

To say that I was devastated after that loss is an understatement. Strangely, I found myself very irritated. I was shattered -- I remember that I went to bed without having dinner the night Brazil lost. That too when I had an important match for my club against Morten Frost the following day. Needless to say,  I went on to lose that match. For me the World Cup ended that day and and I do not recall even watching the final.

Thereafter, my interest in the World Cup went down and I was content to catch up action in the subsequent editions only from the quarter-final stages. Ronaldo’s brace in the final of the 2002 World Cup against Germany was one of the more satisfying moments for me.

As regards the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I do intend to catch the action on the TV. But I am not sure whether I will stay awake to watch the matches for the entire course of the tournament.

Needless to say my favourite team remains Brazil. I will be  following the exploits of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

As told to Saji Chacko