Mikael Samy Silvestre is a man who has done it all. The former French defender spent the best part of a decade at Manchester United under the tutelage of the great Sir Alex Ferguson where he won five Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League trophy along with the FA Cup and the League Cup.
The former Manchester United and Arsenal defender called time on his distinguished and illustrious career in 2014 after his stint with Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL).
The Frenchman has made 40 appearances for his country at the senior level with a World Cup runners-up medal to boot.
The man is no stranger to Indian football with his stint in the ISL and multiple visits for various promotional activities.
With India getting ready to host its first ever FIFA tournament in the form of the Under-17 World Cup, the pressure will be on the hosts as they make their debut appearance alongside the best youth sides in the world.
Silvestre is no stranger to the pressures of youth football having played his part in France’s campaign in the 1997 Under-20 FIFA World Youth Championship in Malaysia.
The French would ultimately be knocked-out by Uruguay via spot-kicks in the quarter-final of the tournament which would later be christened as the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
In an interview with Goal, Silvestre was asked about what would be his advice for the members of the Indian Under-17 team ahead of the biennial event. The Frenchman alluded to the pressures which will manifest themselves once kick-off approaches.
“The pressure will be huge. It’s overwhelming to wear your nation’s jersey and play for your country. It’s a fantastic opportunity to enjoy yourself and measure yourself against the best players in your category from around the world,” the Frenchman said.
“India is facing a huge challenge, especially in that group(against USA, Ghana and Colombia). My advice would be to first of all enjoy and have no regrets after the competition, so making sure you do everything you can to perform and enjoy yourself. Follow the plan and preparation you have been going through the whole time prior to the competition.
“When the whistle blows, forget about the environment, the pressure and the occasion to focus on the game. It’s easy when you are 17 to think about your parents, the media and the fans and lose focus on the game. I would say stick to the game-plan and focus on it when the whistle blows,” Silvestre added.
With the tournament being India’s most high-profile yet, the media attention on the Under-17 squad will be far greater. With such increased scrutiny in the lead-up of the event, the pressure will definitely be on Luis Norton’s boys as they rub shoulders with the world’s best.
India has been pitted in a tough Group A alongside the USA, Ghana and Colombia. The top-two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16 with the four best third-ranked teams from the six groups joining them.