A scene from a 1997's movie Fever Pitch, shows the extent to which football fan can go for the love of The Beautiful Game, where his girlfriend gets surprised at seeing him wearing underwear showing off his beloved football clubs logo.
Funny, Intense but still Pensive. More of a Pensive moment for me where my feelings wave though not at that sort of intensity but still something close to it, for my beloved football club. Being in only one sport loving country, society, atmosphere my inclination towards football was a shock for everyone including my parents. They were like - "From where this came suddenly". It came and really stayed up. Football is the game with largest scale one can ever imagine. When it comes to the number of countries follow it, history behind it, stakes involved in it. All point towards the greatness of the game. Mesmerizing enough with the passion, activities adhered, its the best team sport in all. As I was getting more and more in to it, listening to the adventures of Peles, Maradonas, Cryuffs, Baggios my expectations for International Football was reaching peak, only to be bit disappointed at later stage.
The best team sport's 'Bestness' was and has been constrained to Club Football only, since 2000. International action, where a player's real mettle is proved or a team's glory is written in history books is somewhat loosing its sheen, i feel. The turn of the new Millennium has been the witness of the downturn of International Football.
Club Football is and has been the thing, as Football itself started with Club Matches and Competition towards the end of 19th century. International Football competition started later. But the height of Performance and Achievement, one player or a team touches to, in International Football is far greater than anywhere. History has shown it. But now nothing more.
The reasons are obvious. Clubs are run by Corporate. Like a corporate. Huge money involved, way more than International matches. Club Football is played week in week out, International Competition once in four years.
Now I see our country gets charged up for Football World Cup every four years. Many of us support any of the teams randomly, mostly Brazil ( Because we have heard only Brazil's name with respect to Football), and because we don't have Indian National Team to cheer for. No matter what, our passion is unending, whether we really know or not, what International Football was like and how it is now.
I developed this passion with bit 'Truth' way back. I remember calling my cablewala n no of times for showing Star Sports channel which was airing FIFA World Cup. A month full of Football Craziness. He never quite digested my insisting everyday, as he was busy managing cricket sports channels - the whole city's demand. A whole drawing book with every match result, paper cut outs telling the event story. Watching Football over Cricket, and Clapping, shouting on Thunderous Strike bursting into the net, giving feelings to cricket loving neighbors- who didn't have cable- that Sachin might have hit six. Craziness it was.
I have been following matches since 2002 FIFA World Cup held in South Korea - Japan. I feel except Euro 2008, there has been very less exciting competition. FIFA's world cup or Euro, are the two competitions where most of the Glamour is involved. Of course there are Each Continent's Cup Competition which happens at certain intervals - Copa America, Asia Cup, Africa's Cup of Nation, but Standards there are somewhat lesser than that of Euro or World Cup.
And as far as these two big competitions are concerned I have seen very less excitement in actual events. Final itself of each competition since 2002 has been disappointing. In Euro 2004, Greece beat Portugal 1-0, In World Cup 2006 Italy won on penalties against France, In Euro 2008 Spain won by 1-0 against Germany, In World Cup 2010 Spain beat Holland 1-0, In Euro 2012 Spain beat Italy 4-0, In World Cup 2014 Germany beat Argentina 1-0, In Euro 2016 Portugal beat France 1-0. All finals except that in Euro 2012, were low scoring affair that too needed extra time sometimes. All lacked Open games throughout. Strategy was to park the bus. Defend, defend, defend. And score on counter attack. If players are good, playing for team and not for personal glory, then there is a chance of a goal. Otherwise wait for opportunity. And as a result match used to go to extra time or penalties.
Criticism that pops up and rightly so, says, clubs caution the players not to get injured in international matches as that injury may offer a big setback for Clubs upcoming league matches. Players themselves play for the personal Glory over that of Nation's or Team's. Players livelihood is dependent on Clubs salary. Ego clashes are predominant in Player and Coach relationship, ultimately ruining shape of the team showing 'who cares' attitude. And whoever play for Team's Glory, the only aim is about winning, no matter how. The classic term of Open Game, 4-4-2 formation, attacking football are few or no more. Making games boring. As an Indian, where my feelings are always degrading for not seeing my country's team in any big football competition many times, degrading more for seeing the apathy of International Football.
There will be no heroics like Peles, Maradonas for future generations to remember. No Messi winning World Cup like his compatriot did single handed for Argentina. No records making for Neymar like Pele. No match turning influence like Zidane for Pogba.
My passion for football remains in tact for the club i support, doesn't matter how the players perform on their international duty. Because when it comes to international scene its Indian Teams football performance matters to me, which is not up to the mark in already disintegrating scene of international football.
I wish Fever Pitch will be a reality for me as an Indian someday!