It was just another routine World Cup group game, punctuated by some shocking lapses by the much-hyped Zinedine Zidane-led French line-up. France [ Images ] versus Switzerland [ Images ] should have been more productive than the 0-0 draw for the 1998 World champions in Stuttgart on Tuesday.
But just when the Group G match started meandering towards its end, Indian viewers were in for a big surprise. Vikash Dhorasoo, the only Indian at the World Cup, dashed onto the field in the 84th minute. He removed the ring on his finger and took position on the French right wing.
The 32-year-old, who was in the French squad at the last World Cup too but did not get a single start, was clearly excited at making his debut on football's biggest stage. And the little while that he was on the field he was a livewire that was conspicuously missing in France's scheme of things. He first created a chance for Theirry Henry with a superb long through ball and then almost scored in the 90th minute, driving a low volley just wide off the Swiss far upright.
Born to Indian parents in Mauritius, Dhorasoo is a well-known name in France. Experts believe he was deprived of a place in the national squad for long since he plays in the same position as Zidane, the man he is often compared with.
Earlier this year, Dhorasoo helped his club, Paris Saint-Germain, to the French Cup triumph. In 2003, he became the first footballer of Indian origin to be part of a major European title-winning outfit when his team FC Lyon won the Ligue 1, the French premier league.
There was individual glory in the waiting too as he was named 'Best Player of Ligue 1'. The following year, he joined AC Milan [ Images ].
Apart from being the 'creative spark' of his team, Dhorasoo has also taken some brave steps against racism and homosexuality. He was once told by a racist fan during a PSG match to 'go sell peanuts in the metro.'
Last November, he lent support to champion the cause of Paris Foot Gay -- the first homosexual football side in the world.
It was an important stand taken by Dhorasoo, who grew up in the tough suburbs of Le Havre, considering he is a hetrosexual father of two.
'I did that for the gay community,' Dhorasoo told the French newspaper Illico. 'But also for all minorities. To stress the fact that discrimination is not only about skin colour but its impact on women, disabled people and so on.'
'Racism, anti-semitism, homophobia all those issues have the same root cause. But homophobia is a bit particular. It sounds like an illness. People around me even ask: "Hey, why do you do that?" For me fighting discrimination is natural.'
Having got a match at the World Cup, albeit for a few minutes, Dhorasoo must surely have impressed France coach Raymond Domenech. He certainly could provide the spark missing in the French midfield.