Everyone has their own World Cup memories which they cherish. In India most of us would have grown up seeing the country against country battles fought in World Cups every four yeards before we started watching the League Football. Even I have such memories tucked away somewhere.
The National Broadcaster, Doordarshan ensures that they show all the World Cups free of cost to whoever can buy a TV and fix an antenna. They ensured that the common man was not deprived of the game that millions of people play around the world. And growing up in Kerala you can have a sensible football discussion right from your newspaper vendor to your tea-shop uncle. I was influenced by Brazil because my dad used to support them. And I thought at that time the whole world just wanted to see the World Cup so that their favourite team (Brazil) can lift the cup again. I remember that we bought a new TV everytime there was a World Cup. Not just a TV, but also a new antenna so that we could catch the signals better.
But my support to Brazil grew as I grew older. Seeing Romario, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and then Ronaldinho the love for the team just increased. Then I think it was some kind of a stagnation which set in. The match in 1994 I think where the Dutch played Brazil in the semis was like an eye-opener, and again the Dutch played some sublime football in the 1998 edition against Brazil in the quarters and then Sweden also had a thrilling WC in 1998 to lose to Brazil. That is when I realised that even other teams can play equally exciting football and sometimes Brazil is plain lucky! So slowly I shifted my support. And in 1998 Zinedine Zidane changed it all. I saw the finals in my 2nd year hostel TV room (Diamond) supporting Brazil and saw them lose to Zidane’s brilliant headers. That is when it changed. And ever since then I have supported different teams – France, Argentina, Netherlands. So this year I will be supporting Argentina and Spain. Spain because Fabregas will be playing for them.
My first memory of the WC was reading about it. My dad used to buy Sportstar the only sports magazine available in India at that time. And he had the copies of the entire 1986 WC. Reading through the columns of football I could journey through the Argentina team as they won the WC. Maradona’s goals in the quarter finals and the semis , his pass for the decider goal in the finals to Burruchaga which sealed the finals 3-2 in Argentina’s favour in the Azteca stadium, it was absorbing reading through the article. It was a World Cup that belonged to Gary Linekar, to Rudi Voeller, to Careca…The best thing is that I have not just the 1986 WC Sportstars, but also of every edition after that. It is now nicely bound and kept with lost of Football posters as well. My prized collection.
My first memory of actually seeing a WC on TV was the 1990 one, Italia ’90. In hindsight, it was one of the most boring World Cups ever played, but since it was the first one that I saw on TV, I was very excited. Schilachi (don’t know the right spelling), Baggio, Lothar Mattheus and Maradona…A whole host of players meemerising the crowd who are watching it in the stadium or on TV. I still remember the pony tailed Baggio scoring a wonderful goal in one of the matches and the very handsome Mattheaus holding aloft the WC.
So here we go again into the next edition in South Africa, where again Brazil are the favourites, followed by Spain, England, Holland and Argentina. Hopefully one of the African teams should make it to the Semi finals atleast. Lets hope there are more goals and many exciting matches in this edition. I will be blogging with Vickerman in MTJAG on the teams before the WC starts and then on the matches. So will try to post some of the articles here as well. Meanwhile, let me subscribe to Sportstar for this edition of the WC 🙂