New Delhi: Ever since Sepp Blatter's out of the blue "sleeping giants" comment, Indian football seemed to have found the much needed relevance to stay awake and walking. Many a legends and experts, every now and then, continue to pitch in with their support, all to make India a football super power.
Latest to join is German legend Paul Breitner. The 64-year-old World Cup winner, in an interview with PTI, said that India will become a great football nation in 15-20 years, and a very important one.
"I see great improvement in the young Indian players from 2008 (when the tournament was introduced in India) to now. What I have seen today was very good level (of football) as compared to all other countries where I am training.
"I expect that besides China, India also will become a great football nation. (But) it will need 15-20 years. You need two or three generations but I am convinced that football in India will become a very important and good one," he said.
The reference to China, an obvious one considering the recent influx of foreign stars in the ever burgeoning Chinese Super League, provided a reality check for Indian football too.
The capital pumping and government-backed promotions aside, the former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid player believed that Indians have the body "movements" to succeed in football.
"If you ask me why, the answer is the Indian people have some movements which are different from others, like your hockey team - they use body feints - which is outstanding," added Breitner.
It may, or may not hold true with the actual physicality of the game, but he is certainly impressed with Indian hockey players. Then came the reality part, and stressed on the requirement of having good coaches and training.
"Football generally has changed in the last 10-12 years, from a normal to high speed football. Sometimes it's very difficult to follow and see everything that happens on the pitch.
"Indian players will become very good if they have the chance to be trained by good coaches. This is the most important thing which you have to think about and work upon," he said.
The legendary defender also hailed the Indian Super League and advised not to be restless, because it will take some time for Indian stars to emerge.
"You have the (Indian) Super League now. You still need 15-20 years to build club teams and teach kids to become stars. You need to get your own stars. Take your time," Breitner advised.
Breitner was one of the five players to have scored a goal in two World Cup finals, with Pele, Vava, Zinedine Zidane being other four.
He scored in the 1974 final against The Netherlands that the erstwhile West Germany won 2-1. He also scored in the 1982 World Cup.
(With PTI inputs)