Samara, Volga and a Russian Maradona

The sixth largest city in Russia is gripped by the football fever and is eagerly waiting for the host’s last group game against Uruguay.

The visiting South American supporters have won over the hearts of the local populace with young and adults making a beeline to click a picture with the colourful fans.   -  AYON SENGUPTA

The city of Samara, on the banks of the Volga River, is the sixth largest in Russia but still gives the vibe of an era gone by. Public parks, broad walkways, gardens adore the place and the embankment alongside the river is the longest in Europe. “Samara is a beautiful city. In the old part of city you feel the spirit of the city emanating from the historic buildings and fountains. You will see where our city was born and how it has evolved,” noted accordionist Sergey Voitenko says.

Voitenko is as passionate about the beautiful game and says: “I played a lot of football in our yard. I became fascinated with football when I was in second grade, and I would play all summer long until seventh grade. I played pretty well. They actually nicknamed me Maradona for some spectacular goals I scored.”

“We want a draw,” two rivalling fans, armed with their national flags, shout out in unison.   -  AYON SENGUPTA

The city, too, is gripped by the football fever and is eagerly waiting for the host’s last group game against Uruguay. The visiting South American supporters have won over the hearts of the local populace with young and adults making a beeline to click a picture with the colourful fans at the iconic Kuibushev Square at the centre of Samara.

With both Russia and Uruguay assured of a spot in the round-of-16, the opposing fans are in good spirits with little enmity radiating outside the pitch. “We want a draw,” two rivalling fans, armed with their national flags, shout out in unison.

The Uruguayans know how to enliven the atmosphere and soon they are singing and making merry and the Russians, too, join in. With the mighty Volga in the background this is one pretty place to party.