Friday, June 21, 2024

‘Happy that Indian kids are playing football’


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NEW DELHI: Winner of the ‘Golden Boot’ at the 2010 Wold Cup, star Bayern Munich and German footballer Thomas Mueller has urged youngsters in India to take up the sport ahead of the club’s upcoming trip to the country.

“Football is the best team sport in the world, (I’m) happy that more and more kids are playing the game in India,” said Mueller, who will be leading a bevy of stars when Bayern play the Indian national team in Bhaichung Bhutia’s farewell match on January 10.

This will be Mueller’s second trip to the country. “I am happy to come back after the visit to Kolkata and Siliguri in January 2009,” the attacking midfielder, who was also voted the ‘Best Young Player’ at the last World Cup in South Africa, said. Mueller’s team-mate at Bayern, striker Mario Gomez said that the entire team was looking forward to the trip, organised by Audi. “The trip to India will be a big experience for us, as most of us have not been to India,” Gomez, who had joined the German champion for a record transfer fee, said.

Two-time ‘European Footballer of the Year’, German legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who enjoyed great success with Bayern, said the club was happy to be sending its first team.

“I have heard about the great experiences from our players and coaches when they travelled for (former captain and goalkeeper) Oliver Kahn’s farewell match. We are now delighted to bring the full first team to India.

“Many of us are excited about the country, the city of Delhi, the people and their enthusiasm for football,” said Rummenigge, who is currently the CEO at Bayern.

Coach Josef Jupp Heynckes said they would be looking to present themselves in the best possible manner.

“We will want to show quality football and want to present ourselves in the best possible manner. Naturally, I would like to utilise the opportunity to learn more about Indian football,” said Heynckes, who was part of the German squad that won the World Cup and the European Championship in the early 1970s. (PTI)


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