Lothar Matthaus rarely showed signs of fatigue. He was acknowledged for his indefatigable persona on the field and the German great, with five World Cup appearances, from 1982 to 1998, with a title triumph in 1990, is convinced the game will grow enormously in the times to come.
“It is the most famous, No. 1 sport around the world because people play football everywhere. It was the same when I was young. I had the ball, I had friends, and we played football. You don’t need to communicate because everyone knows the game and its rules. You don’t need a tennis court or a basketball court. You don’t need a golf course. You can play football on the streets and everywhere. That’s the reason why more and more people play football,’ he told Sportstar here on Thursday.
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Matthaus felt the game had universal appeal regardless of the style adopted by different teams. "Robust or skillful is in the mind. Not much difference if you ask me. People now play more of the European style. Today, Germany plays better technically than 30 years ago. We watch others and learn. It is not just robust but lot of skills. The style of football should be combined. We can combine German mind with the technical style of Brazil. It can be a good style. If you follow just your style then you win nothing. To improve, you have to learn from the others constantly and imbibe the best.”
In his opinion, football needs the help of modern technology for better officiating. “Football was not always the fairest sport,” he observed.
“Referees would make mistakes. When you have the option to help the referee understand the situation with the help of technology we should use it. Offside is offside, foul is foul and hand ball inside the box is a penalty. It is simple. But a lot of results get impacted because of small mistakes. We can make it better even though it can never be perfect. We have to take steps in that direction.”
Modern footballers, Matthaus observed, have a huge role to play off the field. “For kids, the strikers become instant idols. But I think the idol has to look an idol outside the field too. A person who commands respect not just on the field but off it. The managers have a role here to teach the players to be ideal role models. Not to smoke, not to drink, visit kindergarten students and motivate them. In football, you can’t just remain players. You have a huge role outside the field too. Scoring goals can be good for the club and yourself but the idol has to do more. They have to do charity to raise funds for people who don’t have the luck like me."
Matthaus, the most capped player in World Cup with 25 appearances, praised the recent FIFA Under-17 World Cup . “We saw that India is into football. India can improve by getting good coaches and creating good academies. Remember, you have to send the kids to school too. That’s equally important.”
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