Arsenal legend Theirry Henry, who was in Kolkata on Tuesday to attend the ISL match between Kolkata and Mumbai and a Puma promotional event, feels that the state of football in India is heading in the right direction. Henry feels that India should look to emulate nations like Iceland and Costa Rica.
Henry, who is Arsenal's top goalscorer and the best-ever foreign player to play in the EPL, took notice of the passion for the sport upon his arrival at the football-mad city Kolkata.
"I won't lie that I didn't know (anything about Indian football). Since I've arrived (in India), everybody is telling me about how passionate you (Indians) are about the game. I
The Frenchman felt that the increased coverage of the sport is having its impact on the youth of this nation. He said, "From the past 10-to-15 years, you guys can see the games (football) on TV. So what it does for the young generation and the one coming after, they can dream about it because they see the games. They can emulate action.
"The game is going in the right direction from what I've been hearing. The guys are learning a bit earlier. It won't happen just tomorrow as you can imagine, but it is heading in the right direction.
"I know for example that here (in India) cricket is massive because that was always on TV and it was always a dream. But now you see other sports and kids want to play other sports. We all know which is the number one sport (football) in the world. So why not?"
The 39-year-old insists that India should follow the blueprint of nations like Iceland and Costa Rica who have made it to the big stage despite numerous hurdles. He said, "I do think that if you have the right commitment, with the right coaches and with the right amount of work, anyone can perform. Look at Iceland and Costa Rica in the last World Cup. You need to work at it and work at it well.”
The Frenchman was, however, quick to rule out the possibility of coaching an ISL team in the near future having already taken up the role of an assistant coach with the Belgium national team.
"No, and it's too late also," he clarified.