'Maradona is God, Argentina my soul' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Maradona is God, Argentina my soul'

Indian hockey goalie Adrian D'Souza hopes for a Germany-Argentina final.

india Updated: May 18, 2006 08:16 IST

Football is my first love. In fact, I began playing hockey only after my school coach thought I could do it, seeing me play football. And the love affair continues. It’s not just me, my whole family loves football. And every four years during the World Cup, my house turns into a virtual battleground with my brother Ashley, my father and me supporting three different teams.

I still remember how we got up in the middle of the night to watch the 1994 and 1998 World Cups because of the time difference. It was exciting then, and looking back at those times, I think it was worthwhile.

This time, I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the whole tournament. The Indian hockey team will be playing the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament and we have our own World Cup coming up later. With the matches going late into the night and early morning, catching up on all the action would be difficult.

For me, the whole essence of football is contained in one name — Maradona. It’s because of him I started watching football and have stuck to it for so long. It was sheer magic watching that stocky guy skillfully creating magic.

Compared to the nineties, football has more glamour now. It has become more competitive. Unfortunately, things have also become more tactical and more planned while the raw talent that was on display till the late 90’s has given way for more organised play.

The natural flair and skills that made players like Maradona stand apart are not common these days. It’s similar to what has happened in hockey, but I guess one should adapt to the times. That is one of the reasons why South Americans are a delight to watch. If I’m asked about my favourites today, it is Riquelme and Messi.

Since I am a goalkeeper, I really admire Buffon. I admit there may be a bias towards Argentine players, but then, Maradona does that to you. Undoubtedly, my favourite team remains Argentina. I would prefer a Germany-Argenti na final with Argentina winning — it's high time they won the World Cup.

Finally, the one moment that defines the World Cup for me is that 1994 final between Italy and Brazil when Roberto Baggio missed the penalty to hand Brazil the World Cup, it was inexplicable. For me that one moment, combined every emotion that could be experienced. It did not help that, at home, dad follows Brazil while Ashely roots for Italy!

(Adrian D'Souza is the Indian hockey goalkeeper)