KAJAL CHATTERJEE, KOLKATA
Neither Mohan Bagan nor East Bengal, I turned into a zealous fan of Mohammedan Sporting following my introduction to the game of football in mid 80s of the last century because I had noticed that despite all stars of the game featuring in the two most glamorous teams, it was Mohammedan Sporting which was excelling in the premier tournaments around the country. My respect and awe towards Mohammedan Sporting attained Himalayan heights because the team comprised all discarded players from Mohan Bagan and East Bengal or absolutely raw upcoming talents recruited from the lesser teams. So I got overwhelmed by their spirit and never-say-die attitude which were doing wonders for the team. And then arrived 1986 bringing World Cup in Mexico and TV set in our home! It was the tournament of Diego Maradona and Argentina! What a magic displayed by him and his team. So in 1990, I got excited about the World Cup with special attraction being Maradona and Argentina. But the Maradona-enriched reigning champion got vanquished in the first match itself, that too at the hands of ‘pedigree-less’ African Cameroon. Again, an absolutely unknown ‘old’ person of 38 years, Roger Milla, became an overnight sensation by scoring as many as four goals and helping Cameroon to emerge as the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter final. Promptly my Mohammedan Sporting-inspired personality took control upon my consciousness. So Cameroon and Milla became the cynosure of my eyes throughout the 1990 and 1994 versions of the World Cup. At the age of 42 (1994), Milla (against Russia) registered himself as the oldest goal scorer in World Cup history. The team might have not reached the semi-final stage, but Cameroon and Milla stole my soul through sheer magic by foot defeating their much higher adversaries in terms of name, fame and experience. So in this season of World Cup, my earnest desire remains that the latest versions of ‘Millas’ and ‘Cameroonians’ (i.e. the comparatively unknown faces and marginalised teams) shock their mighty adversaries and reach greater heights.