Two Chennai -based footballers Pradeep Ramesh and Raghul Raja have become proud owners of Guinness world records. Ramesh, 27, a resident of Thiruvanmiyur, made 284 consecutive football touches on his knees, while Raja, 21, a resident of Chromepet, made 117 eye-to-eye rolls with a football, the most anyone has managed in a minute. The previous records were 250 and 98 respectively.
The duo attempted the world record on December 25, 2016 and received their certification from the US-based organisation last week. Ramesh, a former footballer-turned-freestyle coach, said the records would help build his academy's brand. "I run a freestyle coaching academy called PRSoccerArt. We conduct weekend classes at Nageswara Rao Park in Mylapore and at the Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar. Having a world record in my name will help me market the academy and myself better," he said.
It was Ramesh who mentored Raja into the world of freestyle football. Having watched videos of Ramesh competing at the Red Bull street style competition in 2012, Raja interacted with him over Facebook. Both credit Brazilian football icon Ronaldinho for inspiring them to take up the pursuit.
"It (freestyle) is more than just juggling," Raja explained. "Sometimes, it is irritating to have to explain that to people," he said. Ramesh, who has delivered TED talks on freestyle football in Chennai and Trichy, has worked with Bollywood film actors Akshay Kumar and Ranveer Singh, coaching the duo for brief scenes in `Houseful 3' and a TV commercial respectively. The duo have performed during ISL and Premier Futsal opening ceremonies.
The duo also market their talents through the YouTube channel PRSoccerArt which has several videos offering a step-by-step guide to freestyle football. Having achieved one record, the duo do not plan to rest on their laurels. "We're working to break four more world records at present," Ramesh said.