Hublot, the official timekeeper for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, organised a Match of Friendship preceding watch and jewellery fair Baselworld 2018. Several brand ambassadors, including José Mourinho, Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos, Pelé and Usain Bolt, took part in the five-a-side friendly. Three football legends speak exclusively to Options about their passion for the sport.
Irish footballer, player-manager of Indian Super League team ATK
I love football, always have. I still get the same thrill out of it as I did as a kid. It’s great fun, and it is easy when you love what you do. Football is a roller-coaster ride but you get used to it. It is the nature of the game that you can’t win all the time. You just have to pick yourself up when you fall and relish the victories when they happen. As you get older, you appreciate the game more. I always say time goes by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday that Damien [Duff] and I made our debut together for the national team of Ireland, and he is now retired and I am about to. It has and will come full circle. You just have to enjoy what time you have with it.
Irish professional football coach, former player
Football gives you the freedom to express yourself. It is all I have ever done, all I have ever loved. I am 39 and can’t really run anymore but I still want to play every day. It brings the world together, it’s the most popular game on the globe. I played attack and when you are on the field, you don’t think, you just go with the flow. I have retired, but I still spend my time watching football, coaching the Irish team or talking about football on TV. It’s football, football, football. As a player, you think you know it all but retirement showed me new perspectives on the game and I am still learning. The best goal I have ever scored was for Ireland in the 2002 World Cup. But it’s not just goals that make a beautiful game, it’s also strategy. It is like chess. I am rooting for Argentina for the World Cup because of Lionel Messi, but we’ll see.
Patrick Stephan Kluivert
Former Dutch footballer and coach, former director of football for Paris Saint-Germain
Football is my life. I grew up with it and it has given me a lot of passion and pleasure. If you compare the climate of the game today to when I was playing, it has grown exponentially, especially in terms of financing. There is crazy money involved now and clubs are willing to spend to win players over from other clubs. I don’t think that is right. I mean, from a player’s perspective it is wonderful, but the smaller clubs lose out, and that is where a lot of the heart of football is. The game has changed over the generations and will likely continue to do so.
Now I am watching my sons play and that gives me a very good feeling. Justin [plays for Ajax and the Dutch national team], I can see him doing the same things I did at his age. He is 18, and I want to clear the path for him, warn him about what is to come, but all of a sudden, he has his own style and mind, and I have to respect that. He is a beautiful son with both feet on the ground.
As for this World Cup, there are several countries that could win it — Germany, Belgium, France. It is difficult to say, depends on luck and performance, but I’m backing Brazil.
This interview first appeared on June 11, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.