Lothar Matthaus was acknowledged for his indefatigable persona on the field. The German great, with five World Cup appearances from 1982 to 1998 and a title triumph in 1990, is convinced the game will grow enormously.
“It is the No. 1 sport around the world. It was the same when I was young. You can play football on the streets and everywhere. That’s the reason why more and more people play football,’ he told The Hindu here on Thursday.
Matthaus felt the game had universal appeal regardless of the style adopted by different teams. ‘Robust or skilful is in the mind. Not much difference if you ask me. People now play more of the European style. Today, Germany plays better technically than 30 years ago. We watch others and learn.
“The style of football should be combined. We can combine German mind with the technical style of Brazil. It can be a good style. If you follow just your style then you win nothing. To improve, you have to learn from the others constantly and imbibe the best of it.”
In his opinion, football needs the help of modern technology for better officiating. “Football was not always the fairest sport,” he said. “Referees make mistakes. When you have the option to help the referee with the help of technology, we should use it. We can make it better even though it can never be perfect.”
Modern footballers, Matthaus said, had a huge role to play off the field. “For kids, the strikers become instant idols. But I think the idol has to look an idol outside the field too.
“The managers have a role here to teach the players to be ideal role models. Not to smoke, not to drink, visit kindergarten students and motivate them. In football, you can’t just remain players. You have a huge role outside the field too.”
Matthaus, the most capped player in World Cups with 25 appearances, praised the recent FIFA Under-17 World Cup. “India can improve by getting good coaches and creating good academies. Remember you have to send the kids to school too. That’s equally important.”