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Cricket is Vieri's real passion
November 14, 2003 19:55 IST
Christian Vieri is one of the world's most feared strikers but the Italy international would swap it all for his real passion -- cricket.
"I would have loved to have been a cricketer," the 30-year-old Inter Milan player told Champions magazine, the official publication of the UEFA Champions League.
"I was telling a friend last week, I would stop playing now to play cricket if I could get the same contract. I was a bit of an all rounder at school."
Vieri's love of cricket stems from his upbringing in Australia, where his family emigrated from Tuscany when he was three. He was a left-hand batsman and had a bat signed by former Australia captain Allan Border.
Since returning to Italy, cricket opportunities have been rare, though Vieri says his international team mate Gennaro Gattuso is another fan of the game after playing it in Scotland.
On a recent holiday in the Maldives Vieri tried to convert his friends.
"The waiters, the cooks, they were all Indian and they played every afternoon," he said. "I played with them. We spent the week playing cricket."
Vieri, who joined Inter from Lazio in 1999, has played with many top strikers, including Italians Alessandro Del Piero and Roberto Baggio, and Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina.
But he reserves the most glowing praise for Brazilian Ronaldo, his former partner at the San Siro.
"Ronaldo is the best," he said. "I always knew where he was, he always knew where I was. I've never been so perfect with a player in my life."
Both were reduced to tears as Inter missed out on the Scudetto title on the final day of the 2001-2002 season, since when Ronaldo has moved on to Real Madrid.
"I miss him, both as a player and a person," added Vieri, who insists he is happy at Inter despite a preference for living in Spain where he played for Atletico Madrid.
"I prefer life there...when you play you have fun. (In Italy) they are just thinking of the result. In Spain...they don't care about the result."