It's all about winning

Carlos Alberto Torres …“The 2014 World Cup is the best thing to have happened to Brazil.”-REUTERS

“In Brazil they teach us to be a winner and not just play football,” says Alberto Carlos Torres, the captain of the 1970 World Cup-winning Brazilian team. By Amitabha Das Sharma.

“Try to use the ball as a pillow and dream about football,” said Carlos Alberto Torres, the captain of the 1970 World Cup-winning Brazilian team, as he called on stage two under-16 Indian trainees from the audience while explaining the need to have the passion to play the sport at the highest level. Carlos was on a three-day trip to Kolkata, escorting the original FIFA World Cup trophy on a journey around 88 countries as part of the initiative of the soft-drink giant, Coca-Cola.

The former defender and coach made a sincere effort to infuse the spirit of excellence in a nation where he saw “immense possibilities” of growth. “I missed the Christmas celebration as my wife told me ‘Okay Carlos, go and make a wish for them (the Indians)’. I am here to tell you that in Brazil they teach us to be a winner and not just play football,” said ‘Ambassador’ of the 2014 Brazil World Cup, as he tried to explain what makes his country arguably the greatest footballing nation in the world.

“I am here as the ambassador of Brazil, and also to wish India play the world cup in a short time from now,” said Carlos. Perhaps the 69-year-old Brazilian, who was witness to the passion and enthusiasm for football in Kolkata when he had visited the city 26 years ago as a member of the New York Cosmos that played a friendly against Mohun Bagan, was speaking in support of the dream of one of India’s biggest sports icons, ‘Bharat Ratna’ Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar, along with former India team-mate and captain Sourav Ganguly, ushered in the FIFA World Cup trophy.

Carlos went down memory lane, nearly 44 years ago, when he helped Brazil win its third World Cup and take home the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently.

Carlos was very optimistic of Brazil’s chances of lifting the 2014 World Cup at home. “The pressure on Brazil will be 100 percent, as people still remember how we lost the final to Uruguay (1-2) at the Maracana Stadium in 1950. The loss still haunts people and many of them keep asking me how the team will do this time as the Cup returns to our land. Uruguay had a good team then, but the Brazilian people always want their team to win every match,” he said.

Lamenting the suppression of ingenuity, Carlos said it was stymieing the flair of modern-day footballers. “The players are mentally too dependent on coaches and that is hampering the flair of the footballers. In our time, we used to improvise on our own and did not wait for the coach to draw the moves on a blackboard in the locker room,” he said. “It is sad that players nowadays almost always look to the coach to rescue them from a situation and have stopped using their own ingenuity. My goal in the 1970 final against Italy came out of such an ingenious move. Pele, who sent the final pass to me, is a great player because of his ability to innovate in a given situation,” Carlos added.

“The World Cup is the best thing to have happened to Brazil and we will ensure that it becomes memorable. People forget everything when there is football and I am sure they will participate with all their passion to make it a grand happening,” Carlos said.

Picking up the spirit rightly, Tendulkar, also a World Cup winner, said: “I am here to show my support to the young footballers, some of whom I believe will participate in the World Cup in 2022.

Rooting for Football.. former Indian cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly at a function to mark the FIFA World Cup Trophy's stopover in Kolkatta.-PTI

“The year 2022 sounds like a realistic target. We are hosting the under-17 World Cup in 2017, so we can hope to reach the main stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“Participating in a big tournament like the World Cup does not happen overnight. It is a journey and for that journey to happen there is a process. We need to attain that level of highest professionalism with hard work and right planning.

“We cannot reach the 100th floor all at a time, we need to start from the first floor. As long those gradual steps are in order, the results will follow.”

Recounting his own journey, which culminated in victory at the 2011 ICC World Cup, Tendulkar said: “The year 1983 was an important time in my life. I saw the World Cup in Kapil Dev’s hands at Lord’s. When I saw that, I told myself I want to be there in that position one day. That’s when my dream started, and I had to wait for 22 years to realise it. I was all prepared for the hard work and sacrifices that went with it.”

Sourav Ganguly, an avid Brazil fan, said football in the country needs a massive push. “I am sure all of us will agree that football has taken a beating in Kolkata and India. It needs a massive push to bring it back to where it was. I am sure the Under-17 World Cup will give a big push to the sport and bring young kids back to the fields. I know cricket attracts a lot of kids, who want to be like Sachin or nowadays Virat Kohli,” he said.