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Pak hockey ace Rehan Butt wishes to meet Tendulkar

Source: PTI
February 25, 2010 15:48 IST
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Pakistan's veteran striker Rehan Butt has arrived in India with two goals in mind -- to win the hockey World Cup and meet cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

Proving that the cult of Tendulkar knows no boundary, the Pakistani veteran of 239 international matches said the Indian cricketer is a source of inspiration for sportspersons across the globe and he was desperate to meet him once.

"Players like Sachin come once in a century. There is no dearth of his fans in Pakistan as well. I did not get a chance to meet him till date. I hope that this time my dream comes true. We are here for World Cup and he is also in the country," Rehan said.

"He is a source of inspiration not only for the cricketers but also for every sportsman. We get inspired by watching him playing like this and that too after having 20 years of international experience behind him," said the poster boy of Pakistan hockey.

Tendulkar's aura only increased as the batting great smashed the first ODI double century against South Africa in Gwalior on Wednesday.

Most of Pakistani hockey players watched the match on TV and marvelled at Tendulkar's longevity and greatness.

Rehan said apart from winning the tournament, the Pakistani team will also spread the message of peace and brotherhood during the February 28-March 13 event.

"We are goodwill ambassadors of our country. We are here with the message of peace. We want to reduce the tension between India and Pakistan through sports. We wish that Indian hockey team reciprocates the gesture," he said.

Even though most of the visiting teams have security apprehensions, Rehan said his teammates are focussing on hockey only and nothing else.

"We are not concerned about security. We are here to play. Indian government will take care of the rest," he said.

The 30-year-old drag-flicker said he enjoys playing on Indian turf and the crowd support he gets here.

"Whenever I play in India, I feel like playing at home. The Indian crowd encourages us a lot. They love Asian hockey and they are not very keen to see the European brand of hockey," said Rehan, who has made it in the FIH's all-star squad.

Pakistan play their first match in the mega event against India and the former captain felt that the World Cup could not have got a better start than this.

"It is good there will be clash of titans on first day itself. There will be a lot of hype but we will take it positively. Whichever team wins, will have a psychological advantage in the remainder of tournament," he said.

Neither Pakistan nor India are tipped favourites but Rehan said both sides can upset the bigger teams.

"Australia and Germany seem to be strongest teams on paper but India and Pakistan can upset any big team on their day. We have the finest drag-flickers like Sohail Abbas for Pakistan while you have Sandeep Singh and Diwakar Ram for India. They will play a major role," he said.

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