Panaji: In a stinging criticism of Indian footballers of the recent past, soccer legend Zico claims they were short, scrawny and not well endowed, even as he recalled memories of a packed stadium in Kolkata during a pre-World cup match in 2004 during his stint with Japan.
In his first interaction after taking over the Indian Super League's (ISL) FC Goa team, Zico also said that it was solely up to the young Indian players to up their game and that as a trainer he could only offer help.
"In 2004, the players left much to be desired. They were short in stature. Also physically they were not well-endowed," Zico told IANS.
He also confessed that he did not have much knowledge about Indian football, but said that he would be able to fill the gap after training his team.
"I do not have much knowledge about Indian football as such, but I will now meet with all of them and learn about more about them. After training I will be able to tell you more about Indian footballing culture," Zico further said.
Zico, who has been signed on as a marquee coach for a period of three months, which includes a training period and the actual ISL tournament schedule, also said that growth of football in India, depends on Indian players.
"If India would like to grow it depends on Indian football players to come up and we are here to provide you with necessary experience. But the growth, football development, development of the young players to come up is in your hands," the legend who has represented Brazil in three World Cups said.
"We are here to share our rich experiments with you. I am not interested in whether they are amateurs or professionals. I am here to extend my hand of co-operation and co-ordination and growth and development of football," he said.
The Brazilian star claims he was also impressed by the sights of a packed stadium in Kolkata some years back, when he had come to play during a World Cup preliminary match.
"I came here in 2004 for the World Cup preliminaries and I saw the stadiums were full of 80,000 people. Obviously, they love football and if you have so much fervour there is need now to develop football to a higher level," Zico said.
"India is a very large country and it is unfortunate that India has not performed well (vis a vis football). India has a big population, but unfortunately it is not high in the international football map," Zico said.