Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: leading football players of the country on Sunday lavished praise on cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying the wicketkeeper-captain was also quiet good at football.
Ace striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, remembers Dhoni as “being quite good at football.”
Taking a trip down memory lane, Jeje talked about the training sessions where ‘Thala’ Dhoni would join them for a training session. “He just loves to play football. If he is around, whenever we’re playing a small-sided game during training, he’d always try to join us,”
“Of course, he’s played football when he was a kid and you can gauge how much he still enjoys playing even now,” Jeje stated. “He was always so good with the ball at his feet.”
“He may have been a goalkeeper back in school. But when he’s playing, it has bene evident that his skills with his feet have not left him. He’s quite good at football, to be honest,” said Jeje who has been an integral part of Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League
Midfield general Anirudh Thapa, another Chennaiyin FC player, recalled that Dhoni used to come whenever we had a team lunch. He stayed back to talk to the boys and share about his learnings. He’s a very down to earth guy,”
“There were others who also asked him to come and sit with them, but instead he always preferred to sit with the footballers,” Thapa continued.
“He’d say: ‘Let me sit with the boys and let me share some experiences.’ He told us a lot about the struggles he has had to face in his own life, and about his journey in cricket. He’s had such an amazing career over the years. I’d like to wish him a happy retirement.”
Another latest addition to the Chennaiyin FC squad, who is a huge fan of MS Dhoni is local boy Edwin Sydney Vanspaul. The 27-year-old described how the city lives and breathes every moment that Dhoni is in Chennai.
“People here are just crazy about him. They may have jobs, and other responsibilities with their family, but if MSD is in town and Chennai Super Kings have a training session, they would all head to the stadium, just to watch them practice,” laughed Edwin. “And when MSD comes out to bat in the nets, these guys just go bonkers. It’s like when Cristiano Ronaldo goes for a training session in Portugal or Spain.”
Meanwhile International Cricket Council (ICC) congratulated Dhoni for a marvellous career saying the former Indian captain was an accomplished all-rounder with his smart work behind the stumps and with the bat and was known as one of the greatest finishers in limited overs cricket.’
In a statement ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney described : “MS Dhoni as one of the all-time greats of the game. Image of his winning shot at the Wankhede Stadium in the 2011 World Cup final is etched in the memory of cricket lovers around the world.
He has inspired a whole generation and will be sorely missed. On behalf of the ICC, I congratulate him for an outstanding cricket career and wish him all the best for the future.” Sawhney added
Dhoni spent 656 days as the top-ranked batsman in the ICC ODI Player Rankings from 2006 to 2010 and was the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
He was in the ICC ODI Teams of the Year in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and in the ICC Test Teams of the Year in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. He won the ICC Spirit of Cricket award in 2011.