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Rediff.com  » Sports » First Look: Maradona arrives in Kolkata sans fan-frenzy

First Look: Maradona arrives in Kolkata sans fan-frenzy

December 10, 2017 22:15 IST

'Kolkata is a very special place and I have good memories from my trip there many years ago, the fans were fantastic.'

Diego Maradona

IMAGE: Diego Maradona waves to his fans in Kolkata. Photograph: PTI

Legendary Diego Maradona finally kept his date with the football-crazy Kolkata for a three-day private trip, which was originally scheduled in September.

Sporting a blue T-shirt and a cap, the Argentine landed past 7 pm via Dubai and headed straight to their hotel in New Town, Rajarhat.

This is the 1986 World Cup winner's second visit to the city after December 2008, when thousands of fans gathered at the airport and lined up the streets well past midnight to welcome their football icon.

 

But with his latest trip mired in postponements more than once and an air of uncertainty till the last minute, it was a low-key arrival for Maradona, as only handful journalists and some officials were seen at the airport and the hotel.

"It is such an honour for me to be able to make this trip. Kolkata is a very special place and I have good memories from my trip there many years ago, the fans were fantastic," Maradona said.

"India is a very passionate football nation, and I look forward to meeting a whole new generation of fans while continuing to spread the overwhelming love that I have for this beautiful game," the legend added.

Originally scheduled to arrive on September 19, on the day of Mahalaya to kickstart the auspicious Durga Puja festival, Maradona was to unveil his statue besides inaugurating a north Kolkata pandal.

With Durga Puja over, Maradona's schedule has been altered a bit as he will now meet some cancer-afflicted patients in a charity at the same club and will also lay foundation stone of his statue on Monday.

He also has some sponsors committments later in the day and will attend a gala dinner.

The much-hyped Dada versus Diego exhibition involving Kolkata cricket icon Sourav Ganguly will take place on December 12 on the outskirts of Barasat, about 35 kilometres from Kolkata.

However, it is not clear whether Maradona would play the full match as he has undergone a shoulder surgery a few days back, while frequent change of dates would also mean many celebrities, who were originally slated to come, may give it a miss.

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