NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has shown his love for soccer in recent weeks by turning out in force for some World Cup games in Brazil. He's even met up with the Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
Not just that, the LA Lakers main man has revealed that soccer is first love above basketball, and this week was interviewed by fellow NBA player and proud Brazilian, Anderson Varejao, of the Cleveland Cavaliers who is reporting for the NBA during the tournament.
World Cup passion
Bryant is an admitted soccer nut and this passion for what he refers as 'football' festered during ages 6 to 14 when he lived in Italy. At that time, the best league in the world was the Serie A, and Bryant says this had a huge bearing on him becoming engrossed in the sport.
“Well you know growing up in Italy from the age of 6 to 14, at the time Serie A - that was the best league in the world. All the best players were there; Maradona was there, Baggio was there, Van Basten was there. So when I was growing up that became a passion of mine so I was literally playing football every single day.”
Bryant World Cup prediction
The LA Lakers superstar has changed his mind about who will win the World Cup on many occasions. Once having Germany as his favorites, he now feels that Brazil will be almost impossible to stop.
“A couple of years ago I had Germany picked to win it cause I felt like their young players were developing and everyone would be in their prime. Watching how Brazil has handled the pressure particularly of the first match, it's going to be hard to bet against them you know I think we'll wind up seeing a Brazil v Argentina final and that's going to be an epic final.”
World Cup allegiance
Bryant will be disappointed to learn that one of his teams for the World Cup is already out of the tournament. Having lived in Italy for the good part of eight years as a youngster, he's naturally a fan of the Azzurri. However, his boys are out.
Italy lost their final game in the group stage against Uruguay 1-0, meaning they are now out of the tournament having lost to Costa Rica last Thursday.
Kobe admits he was supporting them during the tournament as well as the USA. "You see that's where I'm conflicted, because I root for the USA but then I'm always for Forza Azzurri, it's always there a little bit."
Kobe is currently in Brazil enjoying the World Cup himself and he believes the next few years - with Brazil also hosting the Olympics in 2016 - are a great opportunity for the country to display their culture to the rest of the world and inspire people in the process.
"You know the next 3-4 years are a great opportunity for the rest of the world to see what Brazil is all about and what their culture is all about because I believe that passion can really inspire everybody else."
Kobe full interview
Check out his full interview with NBA player Anderson Varejao below.
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