Kolkata:07 December 2008, Sunday:THE LONG cherished dream of football-crazy Bengalis to get a glimpse of the football legend, Diego Armando Maradona was fulfilled when the world-famous former Argentine soccer star touched the soil of West Bengal at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in the wee hours on Saturday (December 6).
Lakhs of people thronged roads to have a glimpse of their dream player, who along with his girl friend, Veronica, arrived at a five star hotel by a specially designed bus from the airport. The journey of the soccer legend to Maheshtala in Kolkata, where he later laid the foundation stone for the Indian Football School, was adorned with the Argentine flag and the welcome note in Spanish – ’Beinvenido dios del futbal’ (Welcome to the Prince of football). Here he was gifted a portrait of Che Guevara, drawn by a school boy, whom Maradona hugged and kissed too.
The West Bengal state government arranged for a grand felicitation of Diego at the state’s famous Yubabharati Krirangan (YBK) Stadium in Salt Lake, in the evening. The presence of 80,000 football lovers just to have a view of their football-hero bewildered Maradona, who expressed his gratitude to the crazy football fans. Diego, being amazed at such a grand reception, shouted in Spanish, “I have never imagined that football is followed so passionately here and I have so many fans.