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Print edition : December 13, 2013

Brazil’s Pele, Argentina’s Diego Maradona (blue jersey) and India’s Sachin Tendulkar serve as alternative signifiers of the exalted cultural perceptions of nationhood in the absence of tall leaders. Photo: AFP

Brazil’s Pele. Photo: AFP

In India mass heroes are accorded demigod status. Here, fans offering prayers to Tendulkar outside the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 15. Photo: PTI

This term with its quasi-religious connotation best describes the sphere of influence of Pele, Maradona and Tendulkar in the nations they have represented in sport.
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