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The Cup that cheers

From shoes to hairstyles, jerseys to tattoos, Mumbaikars are going to great lengths to emulate their football heroes, as World Cup fervour rises to a crescendo

The FIFA World Cup has reached its business end with the knockout stages of the competition currently in progress. Fans of the beautiful game in the city are staying up and watching their favourite players in action. They are not only watching though from emulating hairstyles to dressing like the stars, youngsters are spending time and money as the football frenzy reaches dizzying heights.

Kids play football in Kolkata wearing their favourite team jerseys. Pic/AFP
Kids play football in Kolkata wearing their favourite team jerseys. Pic/AFP

Crazy about Cristiano
Ivana Pereira, 18, Sandhurst Road resident is a huge fan of Portugal captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo. The aspiring fashion designer who has sketched and drawn more than 50 pictures of the Portuguese player says, “I love Ronaldo and have watched all Portugal’s matches in the tournament so far. Yes, I am sad that they have been knocked out; but being in the group of death, they had slim chances of progressing.”

Pritesh Asher (Extreme L) with his team at Andheri sports complex
Pritesh Asher (Extreme L) with his team at Andheri sports complex

Pereira always wears a red T-shirt which she herself has painted with Ronaldo’s picture and CR7 written on it when Portugal plays. She adds, “I Photoshop my pictures with his and put them all up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He looks really cute and also plays well so I am a huge fan and have started following football because of him. I paint my finger nails in the Portuguese flag colours too, to show my support.”

Jersey
Kapil Unnikrishnan is also a fan of Ronaldo, but Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani are his favourite players. The media professional says, “After the 2010 World Cup, I purchased the official jersey of the victorious Spanish team.

This year too, I am planning to buy the winning nation’s jersey. I have a framed jersey of Manchester United also, which has a place of pride on my wall. I like Benzema and Cavani because they play awesome football.”

Unnikrishnan, who sports a mohawk like many football players in the World Cup, says, “At work, it is not very professional to have this hairstyle, but there is no denying that it is the look of the season. I told my barber clearly not to allow the line of the mohawk to be seen. It’s really cool to have a hairstyle that is in vogue.”

Messi-merising
For 16-year-old Sergio D’silva, who is a football player, it is Lionel Messi all the way. The St. Andrew’s college student says, “I have three different Messi customised football shoe pairs. I have shelled out around R 5,000 per pair; I save my pocket money to buy these.

It takes around two to three months to get the money, but cutting down on some of the things I love to get my shoes like my favourite player is totally worth it.” While playing the game, D’silva tries to emulate the Argentinean captain.

He says, “Messi is a football god, I can never become like him. But the stepovers that he does, the 360 degrees and his immaculate passing, leaves me in awe. The thing I love best about Messi is that he plays a simple, yet extraordinary game.”

Evolved
His swiftness, vision and cool demeanour, in addition to being a great playmaker has made Ronald Desai a huge Messi fan. The 24-year-old has more than 52 football jerseys and shorts.

He says, “Some of these have been gifted by friends, while I have purchased the remaining. Some of the jerseys are more than 10 years old. I have preserved them as a remembrance of the ways football team jerseys have evolved and changed in the last decade.”

“Messi is very kind and simple; this is a characteristic of his personality as well as his game. His lack of airs has made me fall in love with Lionel Messi — the player as well as the person. I am confident that he will take Argentina far in this World Cup,” says Desai.

Akash Dharod (17) is so inspired by Messi and Argentina that he paints his face every time they play. The Thane resident says, “Every night four friends and I watch the match in each other’s houses. We are so football crazy that we paint our faces and watch the matches. I paint the Argentinean flag on my face and write Messi’s name on my forehead, in a sense it is as though we are in Brazil.”

Nuts for Neymar
Claresta Fernandes, Andheri resident says, “I am a huge fan of Neymar and support Brazil. I can’t watch all the matches, but for him, I watch all Brazil’s games. On Facebook and Instagram I have liked all his pages and communities. The way he plays and his good looks are what make me love him. My WhatsApp status has Brazil’s flag and cheers for them. I am very confident that they will win the tournament.”

The 18-year-old adds, “Neymar is among the leading goal scorers and I’m confident that he will win the Golden Boot in addition to taking his team to a World Cup win. I have posters of him all over my room, I love looking at him before going to bed and through the day.”

Cake
On his birthday recently, Osborne Fernandes, 24 was surprised by friends with a birthday cake shaped in the form of a Brazil jersey. “I am a big Brazil and Neymar fan. I was very thrilled to be surprised by my friends at 12 midnight on my birthday recently. As a defender during my college and school days I have always liked Dani Alves. A football-themed cake for my birthday, was a great treat for me which made my day extra special.”

Tattoo
Sagar Shah die-hard Neymar and Brazil fan has invested in a customised bag pack, phone cover and mug. He says, “As a fan, these things are just a few that I have invested in. Owning merchandise like your favourite player, makes you feel one with them every time they play. I also tattoo the Brazil flag on my hand every time they play. The fans in the stadium go crazy with body paint and costumes; I also do my bit to show my craze for the game, I love.”

Gaga about the Germans
Deep Balsara, 21 is a Thomas Mueller fan, and supports Germany for a World Cup win on July 13. He says, “Mueller and I share the same birth date — September 13, which makes me feel a close connection to him.

Since 2010, when he won the Golden Boot for his great performance, I have become a huge fan. The final is on 13th, which is his as well as my lucky number so I am sure Germany and he will put on an extra special performance and lift the cup, finally.”

Eighth standard student Gawen Noronha who plays for St. Francis of Assisi, Borivali’s football team says, “I am a huge fan of Lukas Podolski and support Germany in this World Cup. I have three footballs which include the one that is being used at the World Cup.

Three pairs of official Germany football kit shoes and more than 10 football jerseys that include those of Germany, Brazil, Spain and Argentina.” Noronha who plays as a right winger says, “I try to use my own style and play. But yes, for the last eight years that I have been playing the game, I have sometimes tried to do spins and take shots like my favourite star players.”

For Information Technology (IT) professional Nileena Suresh, Mesut Ozil is her current favourite. The 22-year-old says, “I love the way Ozil plays and have been impressed with the entire German team. Mueller, Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger are my other favourites. I have a white German jersey that I wear whenever Germany play. I wanted the black jersey but it wasn’t available so I settled for this one.”

The Chembur resident is in love with the German team’s precision and awesome shots. “Most teams in the competition are heavily dependent on one player, but with Germany, players play collectively. They all come together and play. I am confident that they will win the World Cup this time.”

Best of the rest
Steven Gerrard is the man for Pritesh Asher who also likes Arjen Robben. The IT professional says, “At our work place we have started a football tournament inspired by the World Cup, we play matches every Saturday at Andheri Sports Complex. With more than 48 players and four teams the tournament will reach its final around the same time as the FIFA World Cup.

Inspired by our favourite player, we have all made custom jerseys. Mine is a mix of Robben and Gerrard.” Though England is out, Asher is hoping to lead his team like Netherlands in the World Cup, far in the office tournament. He says, “I like the way Robben passes and volleys, which my team and I try to emulate. We watch World Cup matches and try to gain some tips for our office tournament.”

FIFA 2014 trivia

>> All seven previous World Cup tournaments staged in the Americas (four in South America and three in North America) were won by South American teams.

>> Fuleco the Armadillo is the official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and represents a Brazilian three-banded armadillo, a species native to Brazil.

>> Twelve venues (seven new and five renovated) in 12 cities of Brazil are hosting the World Cup matches.

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