The inaugural season of Indian Super League (ISL) is ready to showcase the famous Arsenal duo of ‘the Invincibles’ era – Robert Pires and Fredrick Ljungberg.
Gunners at India
While a sizeable amount of international players, including names like Pele, Messi and Robben, landed here in India to portray their skills, very few have played for Indian teams. Yet, India has seen a few players who have played for top level clubs. Rohan Ricketts and John Devine are the only notable mentions among the gunners. John Devine, who amassed 112 caps for the north London side in early eighties, spent a season with East Bengal in 1987,whereas, Arsenal youth academy product, Rohan Ricketts, managed 12 appearances for Dempo S.C just two years ago. So, now is the crunch time for the country’s Arsenal fans to end their long wait and gather in numbers to cheer for their favourite club legends. Let us try digging out a few specifics on these on-field maestros.
Robert Pires- an ace in passing and movement
Now in his forties, Robert Emanuel Pires, in 2000, chose Arsenal over Real Madrid to fill in the shoes of the ever-defying Marc Overmars. Naturally employed as a left winger in 4-4-2, he entertained the crowd with his talent in perplexing the defenders, sublime finishes and clinical dribbling. From the memorable world cup win in ‘98 to the famous premier league victory in 2004, he has piled up a plethora of titles and achievements. The adroit artisan, adept at chips and lobs, is expected to reflect his genius onto the field once again in the league starting in October.
Freddie Ljungberg – the crafty Swede
Freddie Ljungberg is on his way to put on his sprinting shoes once again after he announced retirement in 2012. The right winger of ‘the Invincibles’, is a vintage player in his position who loves to dribble one or two, set up scoring passes, chip in inviting crosses from the sideline and put the ball into the net with prowess and precision. He partnered with the likes of Bergkamp, Henry and Pires in Arsenal times to fabricate one of the most delightful displays of the beautiful game. If not Arsenal brilliance, he will be looking forward to repeat his league-winning performance with the Seattle Surrounders in maiden MLS stint.
How far they will live upto expectations?
Both the players have aged a lot leaving the golden era far behind. Pires, now 40 and Ljunberg,at his late thirties, may lack the fitness and stamina that the league will demand of them. They haven’t played mainstream football for more than two years. Besides occasional sparkle, it is of sheer doubt how they can leave an impression of greater magnitude.
Advertising Indian football
At Arsenal, Freddie Ljungberg and Pires operated on the opposite flanks but now they stand on the same platform to take part in ISL this October. In their tweets, they both sound excited and elated to reach out to new fans and indulge themselves in a noble cause of promoting football for a country where it is played with hearts. In spite of raising eyebrows over match fitness and other performance related issues, it’s big time for Indian football to be advertised globally with prominent world football faces like Pires, Ljungberg and more to follow.