19 Jan 2012
- Written by Kunaal Majgaonkar (The Times of India)
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He comes from a land where 'coolness' is a norm and Densill Theobald refuses to be a rebel.
The midfielder from Trinidad and Tobago made his debut for Dempo against Air India at Pune on Wednesday and he lived up to every bit of the hype a World Cupper brings along with him. But calmer than the way he goes about those passes on the field is the way he talks.
Densill, who featured in all the three group games for the Soca Warriors in FIFA's showpiece at Germany in 2006, recalls every moment of the dream chance with the widest of smiles.
"The World Cup is the most beautiful thing in football and the first time I walked out to play against Sweden has to be the sweetest memory," says Theobald, who has been training with the Goan club for three months but couldn't play owing to glitches in his transfer deal.
Ask him what the game against high-profile England was like and Densill has funny recollections. "Steven Gerrard is a player I admire and to play against him was a dream come true."
Ask him if he threw some hard tackles at the Liverpool ace and Densill sheepishly admits he picked up a yellow card for pulling back Gerrard.
"He was just too fast for me and the only way I was stopping him was by pulling his jersey."
Densill's only regret was not being able to swap the jersey he tugged at all along the game. "I was taken for random blood test as soon as the game ended and missed catching Gerrard for his shirt," says Densill.
For someone from the Caribbean, you couldn't have not held a beer can or a cricket bat at some point in your life and Densill says he knows a fair bit about the game that India breathes. "Brian Lara, Dwayne and Darren Bravo are good friends. I know the respect Lara gets in India."
Densill even managed to take some pointers about India from Lara and the only 'vice' he has been told to keep away from is curry. "Brian told me that India is a fantastic country and that I'd discover new things everyday and he hasn't been wrong. It's just the food, he warned, that I have to be careful about!" says Densill.
Though he misses the sands of home, Densill is too much of a professional to get homesick. "I am here on a job and that job is to help Dempo win the I-League title. This is my new family and I am delighted to be in India and with Dempo," he says.
Coach Armand Colaco is all praise for his newest ace. "He knows the Dempo style of play and is a good reader of the game. In time, he will make for a good leader. It was frustrating not to be able to play him but all that has changed now. I have found my new Beto in Densill," said Colaco.
Densill takes up Dempo offer on Lara's advice
For Densill Theobald from Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), coming all the way to India wasn't a tough ask. If coach Armando Colaco's warmth and Dempo's success in Indian football required more conviction, help was just a call away. And when good friends Brian Lara and the Bravo brothers tell you that a stint in the country is worth a shot, you know it really is.
The 29-year-old was spotted by Colaco on a visit to the Caribbean island, and such was the connect between them, that the coach knew he had found his ‘leader’.
“After (Cristiano) Junior passed away (due to a freak on field clash during the 2004 Federation Cup), I found Beto who had taken up the role of a guide. But after his move to Churchill, Dempo missed their leader. I think I’ve found my man,” he said, after watching Densill thrive in the right midfield against Air India.
All three goals on the day came off Densill’s feeds, which were nothing short of elegant. Maybe it was the result of sitting on Dempo’s rosters for four months, awaiting the International Transfer Certificate to finally play. But with the time effectively used to train with the team in Goa, adapting to the ‘Dempo style of football’ was never a bother.
Before the arrival though, Densill called his cricket buddies for a taste of India. “They asked me to definitely go give it a shot, while warning me to stay away from the spicy curries,” he smiled. “Dempo has been a wonderful family to be part of and as long as I have the passion to train and the desire to win, I want to play here,” he said.