Messi the greatest now: Gullit

Gangtok: Dutch stalwart Ruud Gullit, who recently presented Lionel Messi with his third FIFA Ballon d`Or on Sunday said the Argentine and Barcelona player is the greatest footballer at the moment.

Here in Sikkim, leading Superstars XI for a charity match against Bhaichung Bhutia`s United Sikkim FC, the former Dutch striker said he would be happy to help Indian football develop if a role was offered to him.

"Messi is the greatest at the moment. He is really a special talent and who does not love him! He will of course belong to all time greatest footballers," Gullit said.

The 1990 World Cupper further said credit should also be given to coach Pep Guardiola, predecessor of Frank Rijkaard, for Barcelona`s rise as the top club in the world at the moment.

Asked whether he would like to help Indian football in some capacity, Gullit said he would be happy to do that if he was given an offer.

Hailing Indian legend Bhutia`s effort for the charity match, he said, "The Super Soccer which has been organised by the state government and pushed by Indian footballing legend Bhaichung Bhutia is commendable.

"The presence of these celebrities and veteran footballers shall take Sikkim`s aspiring footballers to greater heights," said Gullit, who led the Netherlands to Euro 88 victory.

Even if the 49-year-old did not play the exhibition match because of an injury, he enthralled the crowd from the sidelines.

Gullit further said the football infrastructure in Sikkim was something which he had never expected to see in a small Himalayan state. These initiatives taken by the state government to promote local talent was a step towards making Sikkim one of the best scouting regions in the country, he said.

"I am deeply privileged along with my counterparts to be a part of this event as it is for charity. We know that the funds generated from this match will reach the most under privileged. I have seen that the people of Sikkim are brave and are recovering well from the devastation last year; this is how it should be. A new beginning is what we should believe in," the Dutch stalwart said.

He further said the event would inspire the younger footballing talents from Sikkim and also motivate the USFC team members who are all young and talanted players.

He said that with so much support from the government and senior international players like Bhutia, Sikkim is on the right track to become the next footballing hub of the country.

Actor Rahul Bose who was also part of the charity match said the funds collected from this exhibition match and an auction of Bhutia`s memorabilia (5 items) would be used to create another artificial turf in Sikkim with the help of the state government.

The auction will be held in Mumbai on February 11.