Panaji: Brazilian legend Zico, the most high-profile coach in the upcoming Indian Super League, wants the 'Japan model' to be followed by India in order to improve the standard of the game in a country of 1.4 billion people.
"If football needs to grow in India, one needs collective effort just like it happened in Japan," said Zico, who will be in charge of ISL franchise FC Goa.
"When I first went to Japan (1991), there was no professional set-up but the biggest advantage was the intent and collective effort by the Japanese people to raise the standard of their game in the country," said Zico, who had scored 48 international goals in 71 appearances for Brazil.
"In India, if you want football to grow, it will depend on Indian players and how hard people here are willing to work for the betterment of the game. I am not bothered if you have amateurs or professionals but my job is to help with my expertise but intent is in your hands. from my end, I assure my co-operation and experience," one of the biggest names in world football in 1980's apart from Diego Maradona and Michel Platini.
One of the greatest players to have never won a World Cup, Zico made it clear that he is not here to be a "mere passenger" but is eyeing to contribute for the cause of Indian football.
"Asia is becoming stronger and I have not come here to be a mere passenger. I want to be part of the development of the game in India. Despite being such a huge country, it is unfortunate that India have not made a mark in the football map of the world," lamented Zico, who was also known as 'White Pele' for his dazzling skills.
Zico had come to India a decade earlier, back in 2004, as the coach of the Japan national team, which played a World Cup qualifier against India in Kolkata. Zico does vividly remembers that whistlestop visit.
"I came here in 2004 in Kolkata for the World Cup qualifiers and saw a stadium (Salt lake Stadium) full of crowd. Obvisouly, they love football and if you got so much love, that you need to develop football at higher level. I hope, we all work together the federation and the government so that football will rise to greater height," stated Zico.
Zico believes that ISL will help raise the quality of the game in India and there will be a proper football culture that is necessary for the betterment of the game.
"With the big league, I hope the quality will rise and will have new culture that will benefit football. We know for the success, we have to work very hard and I have always worked hard for my own country and I have now come to India to do the same.
"Individually, we cannot achieve our goal but collectively we can. I have come here with lot of experience and will definetly do the best to help raise Indian football," he said.
Zico's primary aim is to take FC Goa into the final of the inaugural edition of ISL.
"During next few months, the aim is to see the team reach the final. We need to win matches and I am optimistic, we will achieve the goal. We have to prepare well and need to know each and every player in the FC Goa. I want to share my footballing philosophy with every player during this short time."