Given his looks and size, it is easy for Vikash Dhorasoo to be inconspicuous in India. Part of the France squad that finished runners-up in the 2006 World Cup during which he also made a short film called Substitute, the artistic midfielder spoke to HT on Friday. Excerpts:
Q: What brings you to India?
A: This visit is primarily to talk about the next film our company trompe le monde (Pierre Walfisz, Dhorasoo’s partner in the company translates the name as ‘cheating the world’ “because what you see in films is not real”) will make and to explore ways of developing football in India. We are in Kolkata to meet friends (Renedy Singh and Bhaichung Bhutia among them) but had fruitful meetings in Mumbai with corporates about football.
Q: Could you talk us through this film?
A: (Walfisz takes over after pointing out that Dhorasoo bankrolls the company). It is called Do Duni (the working English title is Twosome) and is the story of two women and how their lives cross. It’s arthouse and the kind of film that could connect with the French audience but may not find too many producers in India.
Q: And football?
A: I have Indian roots and have grown up eating Indian food and listening to Indian music. We have spoken to a lot of people over the past two days and have been pleasantly surprised by the interest among corporates about Indian football. We will firm up things once we get back but the precise idea is to start some kind of an exchange programme.
It will be a mistake to start thinking of India as a market for French football now. We are not here to sell shirts. And the profile of the French league doesn’t compare to that of the EPL and the Spanish league. But France probably has the world’s best training system and that’s where we can help. What India needs is training knowhow and maybe if we get an Indian company looking to tap the French market, we can offer football clubs as a medium. Then, we get officials from that club to come over and help set things up through a long-term arrangement.
Q: Would you call yourself the world’s best player on the bench?
A: That’s not true because I played a lot for all my clubs. Given that I came from a poor neighbourhood in a small town (Le Havre), I find it incredible that I played for France, played twice in a World Cup finals and was part of a squad that finished runners-up. I do regret though not being part of the Champions League final against Liverpool (in Istanbul in 2005 which Milan lost after being 3-0 up at half-time).
Q: And why did you play only one season (with AC Milan) outside France?
A: I had to make a choice when I was in Lyon, either to sign a new contract with them or join a big club in Europe. Lyon decided it for me by giving me a good contract and then it became difficult to leave. At 26, I could have gone to Arsenal. I went to Milan at 31 because I thought that was my last chance to venture out and go to a big club.
Q: In a sport where players have got bigger and stronger over the years, how did you fit in?
A: All my life I was told that I was too small and needed to build muscles. I didn’t and hence wasn’t popular with coaches. I am the proof that Indians can play football and that size doesn’t matter. Football’s a symphony of time and space. Everytime you have the ball, you need to make the connection between how soon must you release for a teammate to make a difference. Also, at every level you need a player who can make a difference. Football has space for a (Carles) Puyol and an artist like Xavi.
Q: Who’s the best central midfielder of your generation?
A: Clarence Seedorf.
Q: And is Lionel Messi the best player ever?
A: No, that has to be Diego Maradona. To think, he did all that with cocaine. Just imagine what he could have done without it.
Q: What’s your take on France’s disastrous show in the 2010 World Cup finals?
A: The strategy was the same as 2006 and no one complained then! If you told me before 2006 that France would exit in the quarter-finals, I would have taken it because (Zinedine) Zidane was old, (Fabian) Barthez was old, (Patrick) Vieira was old etc.
I think the problem was in the coach’s (Raymond Domenech) approach. We were footballers but had the lives of soldiers in a bunker. I think Domenech should have gone in 2008 but the federation decided to keep him. I quite like that guy though. He was crazy, he proposed to his girlfriend on TV when everyone in France wanted to kill him. I like crazy guys.
Q: You think France will do well in the 2012 European Championships?
A: Laurent Blanc is doing a good job but, no. They have a weak defence and weak midfield. Karim Benzema is a good player but doesn’t get enough games at Real. And that leaves Franck Ribery alone to do too many things. That could all change though.
Q: How do you evaluate Zinedine Zidane?
A: Do you have any other question?