LAHORE: As celebrated Brazilian Football maestro, Ricardo Kaka, and another great Portuguese midfielder, Luis Figo, are due to land in Pakistan Thursday (today) to play two matches in Karachi and Lahore, rather disturbing news had flashed on a few local television networks that the formidable sporting duo will not call on Premier Imran Khan in Islamabad due to paucity of time despite reported requests from Prime Minister’s Office.
The Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister, Fawad Chaudhary also confirmed the news but did not elaborate much on the subject.
The tour of the two retired Football giants has reportedly been managed by a sports management company. Ricardo Kaka, regarded as one of the finest footballers of all times, was named in both the FIFA World Eleven and UEFA Team of the Year thrice between 2006 and 2009. In 2010, he was named in the A.C. Milan Football Club’s Hall of Fame.
Having scored 149 goals in 461 matches, the 36-year old Kaka was the first sportsperson to amass 10 million followers on Twitter. He had also scored 29 goals for Brazil in 92 matches for his national side.
After his success with Milan, Kaka had joined Real Madrid Club for a transfer fee of 67 million Euros in 2010. At that time, this was the second transfer fee (in Euros) ever , behind only the 77.5 million Euro fee for French player, Zinedine Zidane.
Meanwhile, the 46-year old Luis Figo had won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record at the time but later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo. Having scored 93 goals in 577 matches, Figo had also netted the ball 32 times for his country, Portugal.
Figo captained the Portugal squad during the 2006 World Cup, leading the team to the semi-finals. Known for a quick, elegant, highly skilful player with a dribbling ability that allowed him to frequently take on and beat defenders in one-on-one situation, his controversial transfer in 2000 from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of 62 million Euros.
It is pertinent to note that in July 2017, Brazil’s Ronaldinho, former Manchester United stalwart Ryan Giggs, former England goalkeeper David James, Dutch star George Boateng, former French players Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, and Portuguese player Luis Boa Morteand had also participated in two exhibition matches in Pakistan.
In its July 10, 2017 report, Germany’s public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle or DW had stated: “Ronaldinho, 37, who was part of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winning team, told reporters he was on a “goodwill mission” aimed at inspiring youngsters to play the game.
Giggs, who retired from international football in 2014, said he was impressed by Pakistan’s love for football. His former club, Manchester United, has a strong fan base in the Islamic country. The event was organized by Leisure Leagues Pakistan, which said the purpose behind bringing football stars like Ronaldinho and Giggs to Pakistan was to promote the sport in the country and portray its positive image.”
Remember, soon after landing in Islamabad in a flight from Dubai, the above-named international footballers had visited the Pakistani Army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi and had met Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Bajwa.