Kicking around with Kohli

Kicking around with Kohli

Kicking around with Kohli

“If you want a good laugh, you should watch Ravindra Jadeja play football. He thinks he is Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Indian cricketers aren’t generally known to engage in friendly banter during press conferences but Virat Kohli wasn’t prepared to let go off the chance. At the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday to play a role in selecting two children who will fly to Sao Paulo to be a part of the FIFA Fairplay flag bearer programme at the World Cup, Kohli was at his sparkling best.

Asked to share anecdotes of playing football with his national team-mates, Kohli said: “Some guys don’t know how to kick the ball so all they do is kick it with the tip of their shoes (laughs).

“It’s hilarious — even when you are having tense games, you watch him (Jadeja) showing his skills on the ball and you will be on the floor laughing. It’s a lot of fun when we play football.

“I play midfield but I always go forward as somebody needs to try and score goals. And when the ball goes to Jadeja, there’s no getting it back.”

The Indian side has copped criticism from some quarters for playing football during training sessions but Kohli brushed them aside.

“It’s a different way of looking at things. If you play responsibly then you won’t get injured.

“We don’t play as aggressively. We push someone a little hard then it’s a foul in our ‘football’, so it’s not aggressive at all.”

Clad in a replica jersey of the Nationalmannschaft, Kohli revealed that he has always supported the German side. “They are a brilliant team. Even in the 2010 World Cup, they played good football and they were unfortunate at the most important stage but hopefully this will be Germany’s year (at the World Cup).

“My favourite German player is Phillip Lahm because of his work ethic.”

Asked where his club loyalties lie, Kohli said: “I used to support Manchester United but now I am a Real Madrid fan.” That obviously means he is looking forward to the club’s Champions League final against fierce rivals Atletico. “I am definitely looking forward to that game. It will be a great to watch the Madrid derby in the final and I expect a lot of aggresive football and lot of incidents on the field. I can’t wait for that.”

The cricketing galactico was very predictable when asked the footballers who he would like to meet. “The two best players in the world right now... Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi.”

A lot of bowlers have been on the wrong end of some Kohli mauling but the cricketer regretted taking on former Chelsea player Didier Drogba while playing against him in a cage during a promotional event. “We were all star struck. It was pretty intimidating because he is a big and very fit guy and we were all sort of trying to take him on and later on we realised that it wasn’t a wise idea,” Kohli said.

Before addressing the media, Kohli took to the field to shoot a couple of penalties. He missed a fair few but for the kids who turned up, they had already been sated.