One of international cricket's premier batsmen, Rohit Sharma was on Thursday named the first-ever India brand ambassador of top Spanish football club Real Madrid. He is the first non-footballer in the history of the league to have become a brand ambassador. Rohit comes on board following a series of major initiatives by La Liga in India since 2017. The current ICC World No. 2, is the only batsman in the history of the game to have scored three double hundreds in the 50-overs format including a world record 264. "I am truly delighted to be associated with La Liga. It's encouraging to see the Spanish giant have made inroads into the Indian football ecosystem through their grassroots programme," Rohit said. "Personally, I see this as an interesting journey for me into the beautiful game with La Liga. I look forward eagerly to connecting with the football fans in India."
Jose Antonio Cachaza, managing director, La Liga India said, "India is a very important market for La Liga from a global perspective, we came here in 2017 to get a better understanding of the pulse of the nation. "Over the past two years, and after several ground-breaking initiatives, it is obvious that India has a huge appetite for football. Rohit Sharma is the perfect example of this, in spite of being the most renowned face in Indian cricket right now, he is also an ardent football and La Liga fan."
Zinedine Zidane fan Rohit says some of the India players who have distinguished themselves in cricket, don't mind following the footballers when it comes to hairstyles. Rohit was at ease speaking about football, his favourite player, team and club after being named the India brand ambassador of La Liga giants Real Madrid. "The young guys who have come into the team like Shreyas Iyer, K L Rahul, Hardik Pandya, they all follow football and they do watch all these footballers, their hairstyle and what they do with their hairstyle.." said the dashing opener on Thursday.
Asked who was his favourite player and club, Rohit said Zidane and Real Madrid. No wonder Rohit wants Real Madrid to win the Champions Trophy. Next up was favourite FIFA World Cup team, and the answer was Spain. "This is not because I am associated with La Liga. I used to love Zinedine Zidane, I watched him play and that's how I started watching football regularly and Spain obviously because of their skills, how they play football. Real Madrid is again because of the skill and passion, how they play and how much skills they have within the group," he said.
He is also the first non-footballer in the Spanish league's history to be named as brand ambassador. He was asked who is the best footballer in Indian cricket team and Rohit said, "There are lots of them actually, we have got Zlatan Ibrahimovic in our squad as well, that's Ishant Sharma. M S Dhoni is the number one football player."
Rohit said the standard of Indian football has improved in recent years. "Indian football has taken giant leap in last few years. It has become competitive and you can see that when you watch ISL and when you see the Indian national team play against all the opposition. The infrastructure has grown immensely and ISL in particular has provided a good platform to younger Indian players to come out and display the skills, just like how IPL has done for Indian cricket."
On the association with La Liga, Rohit said, "Football in India, is in its global growth trajectory and it is heartening to see that it is no more considered as the 'sleeping giant'. "Over the course of the past five years, we have witnessed a significant growth in the interest for football in India. Credit must be given to everyone associated with it, including the fans."