The year was 1974 when I watched my first FIFA World Cup. At that time there was no ASTRO and RTM televised the semi-finals and final matches. That was the year where Johan Cruyff, the Flying Dutchman, and his team-mates played Total Football. I was truly mesmerised with Cruyff, the Total Footballer. He was a playmaker, ammunition provider and marksman with a gift for timing passes. Now this was a footballer with technical ability, speed, acceleration and dribbling. During the finals of the 1974 World Cup, Holland faced a Franz Beckenbauer led Germany. Beckenbauer and his fellow defenders man-marked Cruyff so tightly that the Dutch team were never quite able to put their "Total Football" into full use. Mind you, I was rooting for the Dutch team at that time. As history goes, Germany destroyed the beautiful football played by the Dutch by beating them 2-1 to lift the Cup.
I was still rooting for the Dutch during the 1978 World Cup which was held in Argentina. By that time, they were not as impressive as the Cruyff led team. Argentina went on to win that year.
It was in 1982 that I first fell in love with the Brazilian team. This legendary team comprised of Zico, Socrates and Falcao. These three were exceptional footballers and were backed by very capable team-mates. Watching them play was magical. Unfortunately, their dreams of World Cup glory were dashed by an Italian striker by the name of Paolo Rossi who went on to help his country lift the Cup for the 1982 games. It was actually from that game on that I started supporting the Brazilian team. I knew full well that they might not win but I really enjoyed watching their skills and the attacking football they played. Young Neymar Junior reminded me very much of those play makers that piqued my interest in watching football. Now with him out of the game, my hope is that his team mates will suddenly find it in them to play football the way their predecessors have done in mesmerising and tantalising the world. Will they be able to do so without their boy wonder? In my heart, I am hoping against hope that they can but my head tells me that if they advance to the finals, they come face to face with the Maestro of Football himself, Messi, who might just be the Messiah Argentina needs to help them lift the Cup for the third time.