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India’s growth depends on its players’ mentality: Zico

Amid the buzz surrounding what has been termed a game-changer for Indian football, Brazilian legend Zico says the 158-ranked nation’s hopes of scaling greater heights in the world sport depends solely on the local players’ “mentality” and their “ability” to develop.

The much-anticipated Indian Super League, a first in international football, is kicks off on Sunday and Zico is at the helm of FC Goa, one of the eight franchises that will be competing in the tournament which will run till December 20.

Many see the league as an initiative that will change Indian football forever. Called the ‘White Pele’ – a sobriquet he loves to hate – for his extraordinary skills with the ball, the 61-year-old Zico has his own take as far as benefits of ISL are concerned.

“It depends. If India would like to grow, it depends on the Indian football players’ mentality. We can provide help through our rich experience and coaching but the ability to grow lies solely with the player,” said Zico.

He added: “I am here to extend my help for the growth of football whether the player is amateur or a professional. But I hope that football scales greater heights with the combined help of the federation and the government.”

One of the greatest footballers to have not won a World Cup, Zico is surprised that a country as big as India and, with its massive population, has not been able to make a mark globally. The man behind Japanese football’s rise, asserts that he is in India on a mission.

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