The former German international opined that the most important thing for a young player is to play regularly.
Lothar Matthaus was as cheerful as ever when he addressed the gathering in Mumbai. The former midfielder was part of the Bundesliga Legends Tour to India. The three-day promotional tour will see the 57-year-old meet several stakeholders within the Indian football ecosystem, in a bid to promote the top tier of German football in the country. The first ever FIFA World Player of the Year winner had attended the Indian Super League in Kochi on 4th December and was impressed with the fighting spirit displayed by both the sides in the 1-1 draw.
The German legend was very enthusiastic while addressing the media with talks ranging from his favourite goal in his career to the universal nature of Football. The German had a clear idea about what the long-term vision of Indian football has to be.
“It depends on how fast the right steps are made. You have to invest time and money in the academies. You have to group the young players. The young players will be the future for football in India,” he started.
“When you have a good teacher, you have good students. When you have a good coach, you have good young players. You should focus on giving the players good training sessions.” He added.
The German also revealed he feels it was smart to bring the likes of Del Piero and Forlan to India
Keeping in mind the importance of what the child likes, he further added, “A balance has to be found between the school and training session. The parents shouldn’t push their child to play football. They have to wait and see whether the child likes to play football, whether he is ready and has the passion to play the sport and then they have to give the child the right support.”
Matthaus also reminisced about his World Cup games, and his rivalry with one of the game’s all-time greats, Diego Maradona. The midfielder was the captain of the West Germany squad that lifted the World Cup title in Italy in 1990. In 1991, he was the first-ever recipient of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and to date remains the only German who has won the coveted award.
India has seen an influx of foreign players especially since the inception of ISL. The German legend, however, sees them as role models for young Indian footballers to look up to as they grow up.
“When I was a player, my hero was Franz Beckenbauer. I think it was very smart from the Indian football federation to bring heroes like Del Piero, Forlan to India,” he opined.
“When your child has a cricket player or a football player as a hero, it gives them the motivation to be like their hero. The kids will be saying, `We want to be like Forlan, we want to play like Materazzi’. To bring them here and have a picture in front of them, this is the reason why the AIFF was dealing with players with a bright history in world football,” the World Cup winner explained.
“To give the kids a face or a picture and for them to say we can be like them,” Matthaus added.
The former Bayern Munich star also had advice for any player looking to make it in the gruelling world of football. “When you are a young player, the most important thing is you need game practices, each week to make the next step. You can go after money, and then you are sitting only on the bench for a bigger club and then you don’t get game practices, you have essentially made a step back,” he advised.
“For me, it is important that a young player gets to play. Sitting on the bench is a step back. I can tell every young player one thing. Don’t look for the money. Look for happiness; try to play at a young age. You need this experience for the future,” Matthaus stated.
“In six years. I think a talented Indian player can play in the Bundesliga within six years. He can be a young, talented player scouted by the German clubs. He can be from the academies, where he is prepared step-by-step to play for the next team and for me it is very possible,” he told the press.
“And not only Bundesliga, but an Indian can also be in the Premier League or La Liga within a few years. But I hope I can see an Indian player in the German Bundesliga very soon,” He concluded on a very positive note.