On Tuesday, Paes got a call-up from Utpal Ganguly, secretary of IFA, the governing body for football in West Bengal, to play alongside some past and present Indian footballers against a star-studded Brazilian outfit. The 13-time Grand Slam winner instantly agreed.
“It will be an honour to play alongside some of the absolute legends of the game. Brazilians are known to be the world’s best footballers and to face names like Dunga, Bebeto, Carlos will be like a dream come true for someone like me who loves football,” Paes told MiD DAY yesterday. The 39-year-old doubles ace has always been vocal about the fact that he considers himself a better footballer than tennis player. In fact, Paes indulges in a lot of cross training — playing football with friends and members of the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai (SJAM) — across the city’s maidans, whenever he’s not sweating it out across the ATP circuit. He possesses a good left shooting foot too.
“I hope I can do well against the Brazilians on Saturday. My soccer boots are well-oiled and ready,” added Paes.
According to goal.com, the visiting Brazilian side includes the likes of Dunga, Bebeto, Mauro Silva, Paulo Sergio, Zinho, Aldair, Zetti, Roberto Carlos, Juninho Paulista, Edmilson, Caio Felipe and Nilton Cesar.