Panaji: The hiring of a man regarded as "White Pele" as the marquee coach of FC Goa is a "white-hot" development not only for the Indian Super League (ISL) club but also for Indian football, the state's football stakeholders and fans say.
Speaking to IANS, aficionados of the game in football-crazy Goa, former sportsmen and other stakeholders believed that the arrival Monday of the 61-year-old Zico, the former legendary Brazilian attacking midfielder and former coach of Japan, is the first sign of many that could help change the face of football in this part of the world.
"I think his experience will definitely help them in the league. Also, it will be a wonderful opportunity for Goan and other Indian players in the team to learn from a legend like Zico," Panaji-based football enthusiast Krushnan Naik told IANS.
Born as Arthur Antunes Coimbra, Zico earned the nickname 'White Pele' as a tribute to his supreme skill which matches that of his other legendary countryman, Pele, and partly due to his lighter skin pigment.
As a football player Zico has featured in three World Cups and, as a coach, changed the sheer complexion of the game in Japan during his stint with the national team. Added to this, the fact that it's for the first time in Indian football that a coach of such pedigree has been picked to groom a football team has sent hopes soaring here.
Former international goalkeeper Brahmanand Shankwalkar said Zico's appointment should be utilised by Indian football to the maximum and the benefit of his wisdom should percolate right down to the schoolchildren who are passionate about playing the game.
"We should especially utilise this for the development of football in the state and for school kids. Additionally the school kids who have an interest in football and the young coaches who are mentoring them should be given special access to the matches so that they can watch and learn the game," Shankwalkar told IANS.
The Arjuna award winning keeper also rooted for increased interaction between the ISL teams and young footballers training in academies and schools.
For the new brood of FC Goa fans, the appointment of Zico has led them to believe that the club is in safe hands.