A shockwave rippled through the neighbourhoods of Kolkata, known to be the Mecca of Indian football, following the demise of legendary footballer Diego Armando Maradona
A shockwave has rippled through the heart of Kolkata, the football capital of India, after the demise Argentina football legend Diego Maradona in Wednesday.
Maradona, who led Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, died on Wednesday due to cardio-respiratory arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Amidst the heartbreak, the City of Joy got lost in nostalgia as they remembered the two times Maradona had set foot there. He had visited the capital of West Bengal, known as the Mecca of Indian Football, 2008 and 2017 participate in a charity football match.
“I remember when we had met him at his residence in Argentina. Three of us went to meet inviting him to Kolkata. We were waiting for him in a room. He gave us only five minutes time. He entered the hall in a t-shirt and shorts and welcomed us with open arms. He hugged all three of us in such a way that we are like his old acquaintances. We never realised that we were meeting the football legend for the first time,” said West Bengal Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Samik Lahiri aa quoted by IANS.
Maradona, who had openly claimed to be a leftist throughout his life and idolised the likes of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, had keen interest interest to meet former West Bengal Chief Minister and communist icon, Jyoti Basu.
“I remember I had told him that we also had a communist legend Jyoti Basu and he is like Fidel Castro for us. He immediately expressed interest to meet Basu. The time slot was only for 10 minutes for the meeting. But the meeting extended for an hour. He was that simple and innocent human being,” said the communist leader, as he remembered the football magician.
The members of the football fraternity in the state capital also remembered how almost the entire city erupted in celebrations to welcome Maradona both times in the past.
“My hero no more…my mad genius rest in peace. I watched football for you,” former skipper of the Indian cricket team and current Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly tweeted alongwith a memory of him when Maradona had visited Kolkata for the second time in December 2017.
“The man has left us. His magic, madness and legend never will,” tweeted Sunil Chhetri.
Considered as one of the best footballers of all time, beside Brazilian legend Pele, Maradona breathed his last after suffering a cardio-respiratory attack at his home in Buenos Aires at the age of 60.
Maradona, who had played 91 games for Argentina and scored 34 goals, was believed to have “single-handedly” won Argentina the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he had also scored the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England.