Kolkata football fans left bewitched by Thierry Henry
Kolkata was Day 1 of Thierry Henry's 2-day India visit arranged by Puma
Kolkata, the City of Joy and often regarded as the Mecca of Indian football was brought to a standstill as Puma brought to the city one of its Footballing Gods, the Arsenal and France legend, Thierry Henry.
Henry, who joins a long succession of football legends to have visited the city, had a grand time as he enthralled the people in the city with his wit, words and wisdom.
To the delight of many, Henry went over to the Puma store at the South City mall where he discussed various things about football and his life along with Indian international and FC Goa forward Robin Singh. The discussions ranged on various topics; from the initiation into the game to the current situation at Arsenal and even the race for the Ballon d’Or.
I wanted to make my father’s dream come true: Henry
Speaking about his fledgling days as a player, the Arsenal legend quipped that it was an easy decision for him to be a footballer as that was what his father had asked him to be.
“It was really a very simple decision. My father wanted me to play football and that’s what really made me start. I wanted to make him proud,” said Henry.
“But, to get to where I am you have put in a lot of hard work. It started in Clairefontaine and then also in Monaco. I had to make sure that I put in the best I can every day of the week. I didn’t know if I will be amongst the few who will make it, but I knew I had to give it my all and that’s what I did,” recalled the 1998 World Cup winner.
“The talent that separates you from the rest only comes to the surface if you are willing to put the hard work in,” the Frenchman shared his wisdom. Henry, who was on his first visit to the city, was taken aback by the frenzy that he witnessed and admitted that it was only after landing in India that he came to realize the passion of the people for football.
Speaking what the youngsters need to do when it comes to making it big in the game, Henry quipped, “You need to be honest with yourself. You need to deal with knowing what you are good at and not good at. You need to know about your strong points and weak points. You need to know yourself and then you will be just fine.”
Kolkata, which is known to host one of the biggest derbies in the world, let their passion show as they came out in numbers to see one of their favourite football idols.
Finally, Henry answered the plea of many that had gathered at the mall including Arsenal’s official Kolkata fan club, members of which had turned up in numbers in the mall singing Arsenal songs till their lungs burst.
Their efforts bore fruition as the 2-time PFA Player of the Year signed memorabilia for the fans and posed for pictures with them. These were particularly emotional moments for some who had waited a lifetime meet their “God” and Henry happily obliged.
Henry watches ISL
After the frenzy at the store, Thierry Henry witnessed Indian football first hand with a trip to the Rabindra Sarobar stadium, where Atletico de Kolkata were hosting Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League.
At half time, the legendary striker made his way on the pitch where he presented an autographed Puma ball to ISL Founder and Chairperson, Nita Ambani. Later on, he was felicitated by prominent industrialist Mr. Sanjiv Goenka and former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, both of whom have stakes in the Kolkata franchisee.
Speaking about football in India, Henry expressed his surprise at seeing the level of football in India. He then went on to say the words every Indian football fan wanted to hear – that the future of the country in the sport looks bright. He urged India to take inspiration from the likes of Costa Rica and Iceland, who, in recent times, have shown how hard work and dedication pays off in the end.
All in all, it was a fruitful Kolkata leg of Henry’s 2-day visit to India. He will now make his way to enchant the Mumbaikars before returning to England after leaving an entire nation in his spell.