The Indian cricket team skipper spoke to FIFA broadly about his love for the sport.
The name Virat Kohli echoes around the thoughts of every sports fan in India. The national cricket team captain has earned his name as the best batsman in the world, breaking records left, right and centre to establish his position at the podium.
While he’s a master in his own right in the gentleman’s game, Kohli is also a big fan of the beautiful game. Indeed, he’s displayed his love for football numerous times in recent years and is an ambassador for the game in India as well. The FC Goa co-owner is quite involved with managing his Indian Super League (ISL) side and has done his best to support its growth in India.
Kohli recently sat down with FIFA.com for a chat on all things football, where he was asked the persisting question of how far off he feels India to be in terms of qualifying for the World Cup. He said, “Honestly, not far off. We have improved drastically in our football over the last three-four years. With new talent coming in to make the difference, and our skipper Sunil Chhetri leading the team with amazing composure and inspiration, I see us qualifying very soon for the World Cup.”
Moreover, he also had high praise for Chhetri and when asked about how big a shame it is that the Bengaluru FC player hasn’t played in the World Cup he stated, “It’s a sad fact to realize, especially after all that he’s done for the nation. If anyone deserves it, it’s him. And the team should rally behind that motivation and qualify, and dedicate it to him. He’s an absolute champion and an inspirational human being.”
Despite his involvement with Goa, the Indian team skipper can only give so much time and attention to his footballing activities due to his rigorous schedule with Team India. However, once he hangs up his boots, he sees himself more involved with the development of the beautiful game.
He said, “Yes, I see myself being involved more and at a larger scale. Football has huge potential in India and I want to see it grow to a great level. That would be amazing.” This comes as especially exciting news for FC Goa fans, who could see a rapid growth in their infrastructure and youth teams to make for a brighter future in years to come.
While he spoke on Indian football, Kohli also talked about his feelings on the more mainstream debates. When asked the persisting question of whom he thinks is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, he said, “Ronaldo. In my opinion, he has taken on more challenges and succeeded at all of them. He’s the most complete player I have seen and his work-ethic, as I mentioned, is unmatched. He inspires people. I don’t think many people do that. He’s also a leader and I love that, absolutely love it. He has amazing belief too.”
Moreover, when questioned on whom he thinks will take over from the duo he explained, “(Kylian) Mbappe stands out for me. His sprint in the 2018 World Cup against Argentina is hard to forget. He’s a beast and he will definitely be at the top of the pile for me. Absolutely top-class player.”