Chennaiyin Football gets Italian seasoning

Player-manager of Chennaiyin FC, Marco Materazzi, at a training session. Photo: PTI  

In recent times, top quality sporting action in Chennai has been hard to come by. But for the annual Aircel Chennai Open and last year’s chess world championship match, the city has missed out on quite a lot.

I-League football, the Indian Badminton League, the Pro-Kabaddi League and the Asian Athletics meet have all passed the city by. Even the Indian Premier League (IPL), whose most successful team is the Chennai Super Kings, was shifted out this year.

The inaugural Indian Super League football too seemed destined for a similar fate until a last minute switch from Bangalore gave the city a franchise to root for.

So, on Monday, when the team’s player-manager Marco Materazzi, a World Cup winner with Italy, made his first-ever visit to the city, it was understandably a cause for celebration.

From the outset, the club seems to have left no stone unturned in appealing to the local community. The team is named Chennaiyin FC, which roughly translates to ‘Chennai’s FC.’ Its logo Duradrishti is known as the Drushti Bommai in local parlance and is usually kept to ward off evil forces.

The event to unveil the club’s logo too checked the usual boxes.

Co-owner Vita Dani started with the traditional ‘Vanakkam,’ even as Materazzi, whose team is currently training in Bangalore, said he wanted to be amid Chennai’s people as early as he can.

And for the city’s football fans, Materazzi seems to be a prize catch.

An Inter Milan legend, his role was instrumental in Italy winning the FIFA World Cup in 2006. But more than the Cup, the defining moment was him being head-butted by Zinedine Zidane. Wherever he goes, there is no escaping this incident, immortalised in the form of a gigantic bronze statue in Doha. Asked about the same, he cheekily answered, “Which defining moment? Me scoring the goal? Scoring the penalty or holding the cup? I know what you are talking about. Thanks.” The hope is now for this intelligence and relaxed demeanour to be transferred to his players on the football pitch.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 3:37:25 AM |

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