Written c. 2002 on a flight back to Calcutta from Bagdogra (I was ASM - Bengal then... what a job to have during the World Cup!)... after the Brazil - England match.
Republished not on popular demand... but on MY OWN!
Some people think football is a career option. In fact, England's robust professional football system encourages young talented people to join in - and have a decent income, life and maybe even fame and fortune. Which is what Beckham (a bricklayer's son) is all about...
Some lunatics, however, think football is an art. That round piece of sewn leather is meant to be caressed, aroused and seduced before it can be ordered to nestle into the back of the net. And that net need not be at the Shizuoka Stadium of Japan... it could well be a tattered piece of cloth tied against two lamp-posts in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Which is what Ronaldinho is all about...
And this is why football hooligans abound in England. For them, it is bread and butter... and their reaction is like retrenched people taking to the streets.
In Brazil, there is seldom anger. Only grief. Some rueful shaking of the head. And a four-year wait for the next dazzle.
England's display today exemplifies this line of thought.They were error-free, efficient and robust. They played in the same way a lawyer prepares his case... meticulously, diligently and in studied anticipation of the opponent's mistake. And they did so brilliantly. Lucio's slight fault at trapping the ball resulted into the Owen goal. Any more lapses would have surely meant more.
Brazil also played in the way they do best.
With a touch of genius.
And more than a touch of madness!
Who else but a maniacal Brazilian striker would have attempted that curler of a free-kick into the goal?
Couldn't he have just passed it to Ronaldo and waited for him to score?
Didn't he bloody realise that if the English goalkeepr had caught it and thrown it back into the game, it could have meant a deadly counter-attack?
No, he didn't do any of that.
He just put it in himself.
His touch of madness gave FIFA a valid reason for this year's Cup.
His touch of brilliance gave a lot of alcoholics the courage to chuck their martinis and get hooked on football instead.
His touch of genius made Jesus' walking on water not so big a deal.
And for a full three minutes after that goal, this football fan had goose pimples all over his body.
Thank you, Ronaldinho.
Nobody will ever copy your hair style like they do Beckham's.
But then, nobody will ever be able to copy your free-kick either.