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Junior WC will change Indian football: Valderrama

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Carlos Valderrama feels the Junior World Cup will do Indian football a world of good.

“It’s very important, as whole world will be watching this event. This will help the Indian national team grow. It will leave an everlasting impression on football map of India. It can change the game forever here,” said Carlos, who rose to fame with his Columbian side in 1990 WC.

“The country needs to develop age group football. Only then it will have footballers who can make a difference at the big stage. I think this World Cup will provide the impetus,” he added.

Asked if modern football lacked character, Carlos made it clear that agents who control the business interests of the players often have restraining influence on them both on and off the field. “These are different times now. Today they have agents. During my time there was no concept of agents. These players now have three-four agents, businessmen controlling them. So things change. They have to behave both on and outside. They are never themselves.”

But he was happy that money had come into the game: “China is doing great. They are attracting big names to Asia. Like MLS did in his time.”

The 1990 World Cup Captain of Columbia was one of the first marquee names to travel to America and play in the Major League Soccer (MLS) and had a giant influence on the global growth of the game. Asked about his experience of playing in MLS, he said: “It was a very positive experience. They embraced football with open arms. I had a chance to influence the game there. It was also a learning experience as I got to understand the country and its culture. They had just started when I arrived. If you see now MLS has 22 teams. They did a very good job and it shows at the way they have qualified and played in World Cup.

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Carlos Valderrama in Kolkata. Photo by Triparno Ghosal (IBTN9).

Carlos made a whirlwind tour of the city for launching Dhulaiwala Durga Darshan, India’s first red carpet Durga Puja concept that is both app based and five star facility enabled. The man known for his fluffy yellow mane said Kolkata was also a great experience. “The city that has a stadium where one lakh people gather to see football must be a special place. I am very happy to be here and the treatment has been fantastic. I would love to come and display my skills here someday,” he said.

Asked if modern football was killing the art quotient, he said: “Everything changes. Football changes, life changes. My wish is that football never ends. I think the entertainment value of football is going up. Now many more countries which did not play football before are playing. So it is growing.”

Asked to mark the high and low of his career, the multiple times footballer of Latin America said: “The best one was when we qualified to the 1990 WC and then beat Argentina 5-0. And the worst was when Colombia was favourite for 1994 WC and we had a great team but we were knocked out in group stages.”

Asked about the Columbian side today, he quipped: “We have James Rodriguez. He is very good and will shine at Bayern Munich. Colombian football future is very bright. The players play in best teams and best leagues and bring back a world of experience that go to add value to the team.”

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