In the wake of Indian strikers Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua's unsuccessful trials with Scottish champions Rangers, Bayern Munich and Germany legend Paul Breitner reckoned that Indian footballers are far from the level of their European and South American counterparts.
"I don't think European teams are interested in Indian players yet. But that time will come. We (Bayern) are here not only to make Bayern popular in India, but also to take Indian football to German and European fans," said Breitner, who was in the city recently scouting for U-16 talent to participate in the Bayern Munich Youth Cup to be held at Allianz Arena in Munich in May.
"Fans must understand such things don't happen overnight. But we are here to support Indian football, to help create infrastructure and help develop the sport. Hopefully in the next decade things will change," he added.
In the recent seasons, the number of Asian players participating in the Bundesliga has risen considerably.
Japanese trio Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke) and Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg) are already established while new prospects like 19-year-old Japanese starlet Takashi Usami (Bayern) and 18-year-old South Korean wonder kid Heung-Min Son's (Hamburger SV) success are only an indication of Asia's rising status in German football. But Breitner laid emphasis on the need for better level of coaching in the continent, to explain the absence of Indian names in European football.
"The coaches here (Asia) need to be coached. It is important that players in India, China and Japan are trained under international coaches with experience and knowledge. And most importantly the best coaches should work with the youngest kids. I'm sure by doing this the number of Asian players in Europe will automatically go up," said the 60-year-old, whose versatility allowed him to shine in midfield as well as defence during the seventies and early eighties.
Breitner, who earned 48 international caps, is confident about Bayern's chances of making the Champions League final in Munich but admits they will have stiff competition. Asked if Bayern should be concerned of missing out on their home final due to the dominance of Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, where Barcelona again had the last laugh (-3-1 victory) in the first El Clasico last night, Breitner replied: "May be, Barca are too strong but not Real.
Barca are definitely the best team. Their high and unique level of football is difficult to match. But after Barca, there are two contenders to make the final -- Real and Bayern. But we are confident. We are very near to Barca," said Breitner, who donned the famous white of Real Madrid between 1974-77, winning two Spanish League titles and a Copa Del Rey trophy during the time.
Photos: Katrina Kaif, Shamita Shetty at Mumbai airport
Photos: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt promote 'Badri...' on 'Dil Hai Hindustani'
In pictures: 15 facts about kissing that will surprise you
Photos: Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput at cafe in Bandra
Photos: Deepika Padukone, Neha Dhupia and Soha Ali Khan at event