Why Wayne Rooney Will Always Be Special To Me

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Thirteen years. Sixteen trophies. One Wayne Rooney. (Source – @manutd)

“Wayne Rooney is leaving #MUFC to return to Everton”, read a tweet from Manchester United last evening, ending months of speculation and confirming the inevitable. The tributes poured in from fans and footballers alike, my Facebook feed was filled with people sharing videos of Rooney’s top goals in a United shirt, and debates were on about whether Wayne Rooney deserved to be dubbed a Manchester United legend, or whether he was merely another great goalscorer who stayed on at the club because it was the best option he had.

None of it mattered to me. Fact is, Wayne Rooney has been a big part of whatever I have known and loved about Manchester United. This is not because I believed he was, or is, the greatest player in the world. It is also not just because Rooney has been the one constant while his strike partners have come and gone. It is not because Wayne Rooney leaves the club as its highest goalscorer in history, finding the net a whopping 253 times in his 13 year stay. Wayne Rooney has been a big part of my interest in football because he was not like the rest of them. He was different. He had a different attitude, and a different way of doing things, which struck me as the most distinctive feature I would like to inculcate.
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And The Plastic Medal Goes To… #Rio2016

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Pusarla Venkata Sindhu kisses her silver medal at #Rio2016. Picture – www.indiatvnews.com

P.V. Sindhu has made every front page today, courtesy her silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games. She will probably make a Sports page headline tomorrow as well. The day after, she will find space in a corner with other statistics. Two days after that, she will find no mention, right up to the point when she wins her next tournament.

The problem with finding backing in Indian sport is this – the average Indian looks at the Rio Olympics as nothing more than TV entertainment. The occasional Indian medal-winner is glorified, deservedly so, but none of that momentum translates into nurturing our next set of winners. How many of us actually care about any Olympic sport in the four-year interludes? Do we as the common masses find too many instances where youngsters are encouraged to follow sport and make a career out of it? We are so engrossed in the plastic praise of a medallist that we do not care about inclusivity of sport in general.
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The Leicester City Fairytale

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Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have had outstanding seasons for Leicester. Photograph – In-Cyprus

“It is Leicester.”

“Lei-chester?”

“Leicester. Pronounced Lester.”

A large section of football followers I know had to go through this exercise with me two years back when Leicester City broke into the Premier League. Not a lot had heard of them before, the only reason I had heard of them was because of Peter Schmeichel’s son, to be honest. Leicester’s best performance in English top flight came in 1928-29 when they finished second. Gone were those glory days, and the team had slumped to the third division as recently as 2009. As they went through the 2014-15 season struggling to stay up, nobody gave them a chance. Having narrowly escaped relegation in their first season back, they were favourites to face the drop this season.
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What the India vs Pakistan Clash Stands For

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India vs Pakistan encounters have historically been competitive for on and off-field reasons. Picture – Hindustan Times

HeyNo matter how vehemently you deny, you know you’re waiting for Saturday evening with bated breath. To every Calcuttan (every Indian, really. And possibly every Pakistani too), it is a huge deal that India will be taking on Pakistan in a World T20 encounter on the 19th of March at the iconic Eden Gardens.

Cricket matches against Pakistan have always meant more to the sport-loving Indian populace than matches against any other opposition. The reasons are many – a historic political rivalry, two Asian cricketing giants fighting for glory, a popular perception of the other country (and its cricketers by association) as the “enemy”, and most importantly the disturbances in political fluidity between the nations in the last decade or so.
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Mohun Bagan Win the League

Champions of India. Mohun Bagan celebrates its league victory. Photograph – NDTV Sports 
Mohun Bagan has always loved the big stage.

The National Club of India, the first Indian club ever to beat a European team back in 1911, the club that has united generations of football lovers, the club that shares almost the entirety of Bengali football glory with its great rivals East Bengal, is back in the limelight. As Mohun Bagan lifted the I-League trophy for the first time in thirteen long years, thus becoming the best club in the nation once again, a million hearts erupted in joy. 

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My First Hero – Sourav Ganguly

To the man who dared to play out the scenes from a local derby at the oh-so-proper Lords balcony.
Bengal’s favourite son turns  42 today.
As an exponent of a generation that grew up in awe of his batting, along with his captaincy, I find it irrestible to admire Sourav Ganguly. Never mind the fact that he was only the third person in ODI history to amass 10,000 runs. Never mind he still shares the best ever World Cup partnership of 318 runs.  Never mind again that he is one of only three players to ever achieve a treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches. Notwithstanding the pile of records that follows his name, “Dada” was just a joy to watch on a cricket pitch. Better than God on the off-side, and a daredevil captain to boost, Sourav Ganguly is the reason millions flocked to their TV screens, and thousands bought match tickets for an Indian match.

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All The World’s a Cup

It’s here, it’s here! Speeding towards our collective brains like The Flash on steroids, the FIFA World Cup is here to unleash some glorious fanaticism, thus making it okay for a straight man to say stuff like “Cristiano’s ball-control is sexy.”
This is also the time you get to see the true colours of India – i.e. whether you unfurl the flag of Spain or Germany or Brazil or some other country whose only memory of India is a study in mismanagement. But enough about the Parliament.

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Thank You Sachin – A Tribute

“I have seen God – he comes in to bat at No. 4 for India.” – Matthew Hayden.
“He has been in form longer than some of our guys have been alive!” – Daniel Vettori.
A short man with a bat that looks heavier than him stands in front of the stumps. He looks up once, and then takes guard, ready to face the opposition attack. On his helmet, you see a tiny tricolor, and on his shirt is painted the number 10. In the stands and outside, a billion enthusiasts await with bated breath.
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