Legendary Diego Maradona cast a spell on football crazy fans of Kerala, entertaining them with some magical moves with the ball, including his left-footed manoeuvres and headers, at the jam-packed Municipal Jawahar stadium in Kannur, Kerala.
It was a dream come true for the thousands of football fans who patiently waited for hours in the scorching sun to see in action the iconic 1986 World Cup winning captain of Argentina.
A thunderous applause from the fans in the stadium, which has an official capacity of 50,000, greeted Maradona as he made his appearance at around 11 am.
Clad in half-sleeves shirt and jeans, the 51-year old veteran blew kisses and waved at the delirious fans before singing a Spanish number and shaking his legs with renowned TV compere Renjini Haridas.
Fans held banners sporting messages "Football God is in the God's Own Country" and "Football God Maradona" as the Argentine, here for the inauguration of a private jewellery group for which he is the brand ambassador, took the centrestage.
Maradona took the mike from the compere and thumping his chest said, "I love India. I love Kerala" sending the fans who have come from across the state to a frenzy.
Then came the virtual treat as Maradona kicked a few balls into the crowd and performed some of his magical moves on the stage along with Indian football great I M Vijayan.
He also cut a cake, made in the shape of a playground with a football on top of it, in an advance celebration of his 52nd birthday which falls on October 30.
Closed Circuit TVs were placed at several places by the organisers, Chemmannur International Jewellers, to enable the fans get a view of their hero.
Selected as the FIFA Player of the 20th century along with Pele in 2000, Maradona is on his second visit to India after his sojourn to Kolkata in 2008 for a function.
Tight security arrangements were in place for the visit of the Argentine, who had arrived here yesterday. Around 3,000 police personnel had been deployed on security duty.
Maradona, after arriving here by helicopter from Kochi, had a quiet day remaining in his hotel room.
Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Sports Minister K B Ganeshkumar, MLAs and a galaxy of former national and state players attended the function.