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'Germany could win the World Cup'
June 20, 2006
Who will lift the World Cup? Former Indian football captain I M Vijayan pauses before answering.
A deep breath later, he says, "There is a chance for Germany to come out with a convincing win."
Vijayan is all set to travel to Germany to catch the action first-hand. "Yes I am going," he confirms, "but the funds have been a problem."
The problem seems to have been solved now, because a company based in his hometown in Thrissur, Kerala, is sponsoring his trip. This will be the first time Vijayan will watch the World Cup.
Any chat with an Indian footballer must veer round to the question about whether India can ever play in the World Cup.
"We can, but we need to have great facilities. We need to have enough funding," is Vijayan's answer. He hopes the World Cup fever will prompt the government and corporate honchos to fund football in India.
For the last five years, Vijayan has been trying to set up a football training academy in Thrissur. But shortage of funds has tripped his plans so far.
"Though I have retired from the national team, I wanted to train the boys in India to make a name for the country in football. But look, I am unable even to fulfil my dream of setting up an academy," he says.
Vijayan quit the Kerala Police team in 1991 to move to Kolkata club Mohan Bagan; he retired some years ago.
His favourite footballer? "I am a great fan of (Diego) Maradona."
Zico, the former Brazilian striker who is now the coach of the Japanese team, is another of Vijayan's idols. "He was such a skilful player. I was heartbroken when he missed that penalty against France in the 1986 World Cup," Vijayan recalls.