There is no doubt about the fact that Leander Paes is a great athlete and an inspiration for Indian kids aspiring to take up sport as a career.
Paes, who along with Mahesh Bhupati, formed one of the most exciting doubles pair in World Tennis,has won every conceivable trophy in the Doubles circuit. Paes is also an Olympic Bronze medal winner (Atlanta games 1996) and is not a bad singles player either. But, it is a lesser known fact that Paes was a really good footballer during his early years. In fact, Paes was so good that he even got a call up from Dutch giants, PSV Eindhoven, to play in its youth team.
The irony is, Paes had to reject the deal from Eindhoven (He would have had to give up his Indian passport and attain Dutch citizenship to play for Eindhoven!) and took up Tennis, a sport which he was not a natural at and has now turned out to be an Indian Tennis legend.
The kid from Kolkata, though does not regret his decision one bit to give up the Eindhoven offer and take up Tennis as a profession. Football’s loss has turned out to be Tennis’ gain. So, even if Paes did not get to realise his dream of walking out of a locker room, covered in confetti at a World Cup final game, he certainly has achieved something similar in the Tennis world and has laid down a bench mark for the future generation of Indian Tennis stars.