Football is my passion. I would be awake late at nights just to watch Diego Maradona play.
When I was growing up, football, along with hockey, was my first love. I have even played in the Maharashtra Football League in Pune. However, There came a time when my brother Ramesh asked me to stop playing football and concentrate on hockey — our family game.
During the 90s, we were at an Asia Games camp and football world Cup was on at the same time. I remember, I would stay awake late in the night while others slept, only to watch Maradona play. And next day our practice would start at 6 am. Maradona was God of sports at that time.
I have not got the chance to watch World Cup games in a stadium. But I have watched some practice games when I was in Paris. I have seen many famous French players and Thierry Henry is one of them. He was young and an upcoming star then. He would come on to the field only for about five or 10 minutes, score a goal and then go back. He was quite fast and played every ball smartly.
I admire players like Maradona, Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane because they would be there on the ground doing something or the other even if they don't have the ball with them. They would run fast, make space and knew where to run and I got to learn a lot from them. Their agility and fitness was at a different level.
I will definitely follow the World Cup in Brazil. What more can a sports lover, a football lover get than a World Cup in Brazil?
Brazil is Mecca of football. The sport is also big in England, Spain, France, Argentina but Brazil is different. I love their football as it is all about skills. Great Pele is from there. I remember the famous No.10 jersey and a big controversy about who would don it after he retires.
My all time favourite is Brazil and this time too, I will support them. Argentina is next and is doing well. They have Messi too.
I would love to see a Brazil vs Argetina final as both the teams are skilfull. With these two teams, anything can happen. As far as players are concerned, I will be following Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Wayne Rooney if he is there, Rob van Persie.
—As told to Taus Rizvi