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that I heard of the existence of a football world cup. For somebody not even 10 yrs old I was like the cricket prodigy in our area, well yes I owned a couple of bats & the stumps we played with, but that is a different story entirely. But still my knowledge about the game was unmatched & yes on a serious note I did use to play with people more than 10 years older than me & was still competitive. One pretty good skill that I had & still posses is the ability to copy the bowling action of any bowler who was a bit popular before 2005, righty or lefty, fast bowler or spinner; never mind where the ball lands on the pitch but yes I could match the actions. We even played matches with boys from nearby villages from Bangladesh. There were bet matches of various categories & one of the best memories I have was winning a Rs 2/note which happens to be the first un-official earning of my life. Well we played football too sometimes after being done with cricket late in the evening(& hockey too with the stumps & cricket bat) but somehow there was no 2nd choice to cricket. I was on my summer break at my dad’s place when suddenly the buzz about football started to grow. Everyone was taking about Brazil & Argentina & how the current players would compare to the likes of Pele & Maradona. I would read the local newspapers & collect as much information I could & learn the names of a few popular footballers & how they looked. Some of those who excited me were; Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Edgar Davids, Emmanuel Petit & Ariel Ortega. The day World Cup started we had a typical power-cut at our place. It being expected there were arrangements made at a few places. Its been long enough for me to safely reveal the fact that electricity would be stolen by hook lines. My dad took me along with him at his friend’s place, naturally the place was crowded. And it being a Brazil match the excitement was really high. Though on the paper Scotland were much weaker, they put up a decent fight & ended up losing very narrowly. I’ve always been with the underdogs so was rooting for Scotland only but with so much support on board for Brazil pretended to keep calm. Though the result didn’t go as I’d have liked but football seemed very interesting & economical on time. My first experience was more than I could have hoped for. The next day, it was the same scenario with electricity & we went up to watch Italy vs Chile. This one turned out to be even better & as most people were supporting Italy, I was in for Chile. The match ended 2-2 with Roberto Biaggio(the only Italian player I had heard of) earning a draw with a late penalty. I enjoyed watching Chile play & they became my 1st favorite football team, later being replaced by Croatia because of their different looking jersey. Though I didn’t watch all the matches but always kept myself updated. The teams I liked included; Craotia, Norway, Chile, Denmark & I also had a soft corner for the Asian teams as they were considered a bit weak. The knock-outs began with the anticipation of watching matches beyond the 90 minutes, golden goals, tie-breakers & sudden deaths. Big teams would now be playing against each other & falling one by one. I don’t remember what time it was or even what round it was but on one such night Argentina & England were up against each other. I hadn’t seen England play yet & I kinda liked a couple of players from Argentina but still they were everyone’s favorite so I wasn’t going to support them either. The match began with quick goals from both sides & then the moment that destiny had in store. A SENSATIONAL RUN BY ONE OF THE ENGLISH STRIKERS, TAKING ON THE ENTIRE ARGENTINE DEFENCE….AND EASILY THE BEST GOAL I HAD SEEN TILL DATE. ENGLAND’S NO.20, I COULDN’T UNDERSTAND HIS NAME BUT HE WAS DEFINITELY THE BEST PLAYER IN THE TOURNAMENT FOR ME NOW AND EVEN BETTER WAS THE FACT THAT HE LOOKED MAY BE AS OLD AS I WAS. I remember a red card being shown that night but didn’t remember who it was, maybe I was sleepy & hardly have any
I had found a soulmate just there. But like life. My most favorite player once. I don’t know why would anybody watch a repeat match. who had a better left foot than people said Roberto Carlos possesed. & coming to present after almost 11 years. it was in a season opening 1-0 away victory over Aston Villa. a midfield maestro I cheered everytime he put on an England shirt & hated his awful tackles yet respected his passing & bullet strikes when he was in an United shirt. the 1st Live goal I saw was once again scored by this Ginger haired Norwegian called John Arne Riise. Now a long summer awaits on the inside of the curtains draped over another season.Once the curtain raises again none of them would be seen anymore.” As I watched on. a working class hero can be much more of an inspiration than a politician. its much more than that”. My interest in football wasn’t d ead beyond World Cup & I did know the names of a few football clubs by now. call a player who just missed a penalty as his favorite one & most importantly support the stronger & more popular team against the underdogs(Totally against my principles). I might have still watched it. Whether it’s the good or bad times. it’s the same passion.“RIISE – OHH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME” convincing me that I definitely made a good choice. Love stories don’t have any reasoning. And eventually when I did become a regular after coming to Kolkata in 2002. It all was destiny. I remember 24th Oct 2010. And after an 8 match draught a 2-0 victory was just the most special birthday present one could hope for. the guy who many would call as Liverpool’s commander-in chief feared less by the opposition strikers more by an interviewer. support a team that just lost to a much weaker opposition. Liverpool vs Wimbledon it was & Liverpool was a name I had heard or read somewhere before but never watched. I could do little but to sit back & watch the match. I escaped from my birthday dinner with family & ran back home to watch the final 15 mins of Liverpool vs Blackburn. But most important was the fact that now I knew the name of my favorite player – LIVERPOOL’s NO 10 “MICHAEL OWEN. later I came to know is more popularly known as David Beckham…. timing or location. in fact there are very few memories from the entire tournament thereafter. but those who do would definitely justify the reason behind slipping out that night. Few months later one fine evening I was browsing through my television to find something interesting & that BOY WHO WAS AS OLD AS ME. 5 PM on a weekday was definitely not Live action but I guess even if I knew the result before. football goes on too.. the other guy who made the headlines that very night by earning a red card. This would probably go down as the most emotional end in all these years with multiple heroes I grew up watching. It took me another couple of years to become a regular & moments in between included. Wimbledon scored a goal. hope & excitement that builds upto every matchday. Well there were consequences. isn’t that true! A footballer. football never leaves you & from my personal experience I can say even if you leave it behind yourself. That was the day. finally hanging up their boots : One gum chewing old man I’ve hated for years & accused of bribing the referees. Football sometimes makes my day & sometimes might . the boy who looked as old as I was & whom I couldn’t hate even after the betrayal. “Smicer’s last minute winner against Chelsea on an exam morning” & one of my most favorite Liverpool moments(right alongside Gerrard’s Olympiakos hit) . Not that I watched all the matches as yet but whenever I saw Liverpool match on air or got to know of the timing. Owen missed a penalty & ultimately Liverpool ended up losing 1-0. an actor or a popstar. “The treble”. I made sure I didn’t miss. One famous man once said. its obvious not everyone would understand the craze for football.more memories from that match. ”Football is not a matter of life & death. showed up wearing a red jersey.
Whether its Tripura.actually destroy a very good one. you’ll just never walk alone. Calcutta.” . there is always a new season keep a football by your side and you know. Football is a way of life & sometimes your only companion in a totally empty life. Mumbai or Bangalore: "whichever club you may support.