It was during a rainy season 18 years ago that Shahabaz Aman first discovered the joy of football. The World Cup in Mexico is still very much fresh in the composer-singer’s mind.

“On rainy nights in my hometown, Malappuram, I watched the magic of the World Cup for the first time,” says Shahabaz. “Dr. Abdurahiman was one of the few people in the neighbourhood who had a television set those days. I watched most of the ’86 World Cup from his house.”

For Shahabaz, the room, where the television set was kept, seemed to morph into Mexico once the live telecast began on Doordarshan late in the night. “The atmosphere was intoxicating,” he says. “I will never forget the joy I experienced watching the likes of Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Josimar, Zico and Socrates.”

Shahabaz has never missed a World Cup after that. “The World Cup for me means getting ready with plenty of black tea and banana chips, and I still prefer watching the World Cup along with other football fans,” he says. “As a man from Malappuram, football has always been in my blood. I used to play the sport too, but I found that the World Cup was much more than football. The World Cup has made football into a religion. You may hate Germany as a country, you will still love Klinsman.”

Shahabaz has several fond memories about the World Cup. “It is not the big superstars of football that I hold dear to my heart; I admire men like Enzo Scifo, the Belgian midfielder,” he says. “The midfielder has always caught my imagination; he is like a singer who moves effortlessly between the lower and higher octaves. Zinadine Zidane, Platini and, more recently, Iniesta are a pleasure to watch. For me, the creativity involved in the setting up of a goal is more beautiful than the scoring itself.”

Looking ahead to this World Cup, Shahabaz wants to Brazil do well at home. “They should reach the final at least,” he says. “I am also looking forward to watching Belgium, who could cause some upsets. Belgium’s Eden Hazard and Columbia’s James Rodriguez could be the stars of this World Cup.”

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