In Barasat 'for football', Maradona wins hearts

The small town of Barasat was bowled over by Diego Maradona as the legendary footballer charmed close to seven thousand people in the one-and-a-half hours he spent on the Aditya School of Sports (ASOS) campus here on Tuesday.

Diego Maradona during a football workshop at Barasat on Tuesday.   -  PTI

For this small town on the vicinity of Kolkata, an I-League derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan was the ultimate football experience.

Not any more.

Barasat was bowled over by Diego Maradona as the legendary footballer charmed close to seven thousand people in the one-and-a-half hours he spent on the Aditya School of Sports (ASOS) campus here on Tuesday.

Maradona, who postponed his scheduled visit from October to December, was the centre of attraction from the time he reached the venue, which wore a colourful look to welcome one of the all time greats of the sport. Donning a pair of grey shorts, a matching T-shirt and a pair of blue shoes, the Argentine waved to the crowd and went near the stands to the delight of his ardent admirers.

Holding the mike, Maradona addressed the audience impromptu. “I am very happy to be here. I am here for football. So many footballs give me the kick,” said Maradona.

IN PICTURES: Maradona wins over city of joy

The diminutive star, who had triggered a celebratory mood during his last visit to Kolkata in 2008, shot footballs into the stands to drive the crowd crazy. The fans jostled each other to grab a ball kicked by the 1986 World Cup winner. The chant of ‘Diego, Diego’ was befitting to the ambience.

Sitting on the ground, Maradona spent some time with around 60 school kids, who wore No. 10 jerseys, before conducting a football clinic for them in the warm weather.

It was an once-in-a-lifetime moment for the kids who learnt the nuances of shooting the ball into the goal. When Maradona himself showed how to do it, loud cheers greeted him.

After getting drenched in sweat following the half-an-hour long clinic, Maradona doffed his cap and bowed to the crowd. He also posed for group pictures with the students.

If that was not enough, Maradona sprang another surprise by taking up the mike again and singing a Spanish song to the tune of guitar played by Kochi-based singer Charles Anthony.

The 57-year-old performed the ceremonial kick-off of an exhibition football match, featuring well-known cricketers, including former India captain Sourav Ganguly, and footballers, before bidding adieu.

The spell, however, continued as the fans headed home reliving each of their Maradona moment.

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