When David James and Sunil Chhetri sit side-by-side, they make an interesting picture: One a striker, around five-and-a-half-feet tall. The other a goalkeeper, well over six feet. That snapshot almost tells us how much taller the standard of the game in James’ country is as compared to that in India.But,When David James and Sunil Chhetri sit side-by-side, they make an interesting picture: One a striker, around five-and-a-half-feet tall. The other a goalkeeper, well over six feet. That snapshot almost tells us how much taller the standard of the game in James’ country is as compared to that in India.But when the Briton talks about the World Cup, or his own bit role in the big show as a commentator, all you hear is respect for the smaller teams in the fray-and of how they represent the possibilities of the sport itself.”The beauty of the World Cup is where you have your established teams-Germany, Spain, England-and the expectation is to get into semis and finals. But when you get a team like Panama, watching them score one goal in a 6-1 defeat, you might think they have won looking at the celebrations. That’s the best part,” says James, who kept goal 53 times for England between 1997 and 2010, including at the 2010 World Cup.That’s one of the major highs for him, watching the smaller teams play their part in making the World Cup what it is-something the section of observers that want fewer teams at the cricket World Cup should take note of-and the other is the shock-and-awe factor.”When Germany lose a game, it’s a shock. For Panama to score a goal is such a shock. You can support a team that has nothing for you but for a value. You support a team as it’s an underdog, or you like their style or their spirit. It’s a wonderful festival. It’s a festival that has the best of the world in one place.”advertisementAnd when he watches that festival, as a TV pundit on the Sony Ten 2 channels, his thoughts wander to the man next to him-co-panellist Chhetri, he of the 64 international goals. “Watching Japan, Korea, Iran, Panama play in the World Cup finals, knowing this is where Sunil would like to be it’s such a mixed feeling,” he says.”And there’s hope too. Sunil is watching Japan play, and there’s hope, he can be there too. We need that. When someone’s got a chance to do something extraordinary, that’s the platform the World Cup provides. It’s about dreams and hope. That incident, when someone defies everybody’s logic-that’s it!”It’s paradoxical,” he goes on with a laugh, “goals make the tournament popular, and the goalkeeper, like me, wants fewer goals. Then there’s the relationship between countries, teams and fans. When Panama scored, I couldn’t think of any sport where such a thing might happen. Think of the investment to travel to Russia. And then the jubilation “James is an interesting man, the sort you’d say has lived a life. Half-Jamaican and half-English descent. An MBE for his contribution to football and charity. A much-decorated player. An artist. A writer. A TV personality. He also went bankrupt at one stage. Then a career in India-as a player in the Indian Super League with Kerala Blasters first and since then as their coach.He says he loves “everything about football”. Fair enough, but this life of a coach and commentator away in India, in sweltering Kerala, is it because of lack of opportunities in England?”Oh no, there will always be opportunities in England and other places, but when this (position with the Blasters) came, there’s a place in my heart, which didn’t need much prompting to say yes. I wasn’t looking for opportunities. It’s not just the need to manage a team, but to do something with a football club where we can achieve what we have sought to achieve, where I can give everyone in my staff an opportunity to excel in whatever position they are in.”There’s also the other side to James, that of a wanderer, something that being in India helps fuel. “I am very fortunate to have the career I’ve had. I love travelling, being involved with people from all walks of life, backgrounds being very open-minded, I look at the world and things, and love my life. Being in India, involved with football, it’s not a country I was familiar with, but I love it. I love Kerala, its people, the football.”Even as a player, and one of England’s top keepers when at his peak, James was a bit of a traveller. Watford, Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham United, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Bristol City and Bournemouth in England, and IBV in Iceland before moving to southern India-that’s his journey in the game from 1988. Where’s home? “At the moment, it’s in India.”advertisementHe would like to help India, and Chhetri, realise the World Cup dream if he can. A tough task, as anyone with even a passing interest in Indian football knows.Meanwhile, Chhetri can test himself against James if he wants to. “I do pull on the gloves and gear sometimes at Kerala. And Sunil, I’ve asked him, but I think he’s scared of getting hurt if he plays with me,” he laughs.