Looking for greener pastures in India

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SAFE HANDS: Sao Paulo FC goalkeeper Mateus Versolato warms up for the Super Soccer Series match against Kerala
SAFE HANDS: Sao Paulo FC goalkeeper Mateus Versolato warms up for the Super Soccer Series match against Kerala

Principal Correspondent

KOCHI: Some of the stars of the visiting Sao Paulo Football Club are searching for greener pastures in India!

And a couple of players from Brazil's champion team, which is here for Wednesday's Super Soccer Series match against Kerala, have even discussed the issue with Mohun Bagan's Brazilian star Jose Ramirez Baretto.

"We spoke to Baretto about the options open here. But we didn't discuss the money part," said Mateus Versolato Junior, the Sao Paulo goalkeeper, at the Taj Residency on Tuesday. "If the offer is attractive, we'll surely play in India."

Brazilian help

The presence of the Sao Paulo stars, from the world's top football nation, will raise the quality of the Indian National League in a big way. And with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking for Brazilian President Lula da Silva's help to boost the sport in India during a recent meeting, working out the formalities should be easy.

"Technically, players from Brazil and Argentina are very good. They are very skilful. If some of your top clubs are able to rope in stars from these countries, it will do a world of good to your football," said Mateus.

The 23-year-old, one of the stars of Sao Paulo the World Club champion two years ago is looking forward to the final game of the five-match tour, in New Delhi this Sunday.

"We've not seen much of India. We're longing to see the Taj Mahal, I hope we get to see it during our Delhi trip," said Mateus.

Mateus took to football at seven through the sport's miniature, the futsal, near his home a few miles from Sao Paulo. "In futsal, there are no high balls, you just concentrate on the angles, try to close the angles. This comes very handy in the bigger version."

He is the third goalkeeper in Sao Paulo's main professional team, behind Rogerio Ceni, who has gained fame as a goalkeeping goalscorer he holds the world record of 68 goals scored through freekicks and penalties and Bosco. Both Ceni and Bosco are in their mid-thirties.

Mateus admires Rogerio, who was adjudged best player at the 2005 Club World Championship in Japan and Claudio Taffarel who helped Brazil to the 1994 World Cup in the U.S.

Busy players

With nearly 80 matches every season, the Brazilian footballers are among the busiest in the sport. "Europe has just about 60. That's why the European players last longer, some even stretch it to 38 years. We are out by 34-35," he said.

But there's no doubt about where football's best treat comes from.

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