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Forlan frenzy

Football star Diego Forlan brings Kolkata to a standstill.

entertainment Updated: Aug 02, 2010 13:35 IST
Debjeet Kundu

I’m loving India,” said Uruguayan soccer star Diego Forlan who feels “swept away” by the mass hysteria surrounding his maiden visit to Kolkata. “I’m overwhelmed to see the enthusiasm here,” he said.

And why not? As Forlan reached Kolkata on Friday morning, the international airport came to a virtual standstill. “We were shocked to see even the customs officials at the airport leave everything and rush to see him.

But, I guess, that’s understandable,” said a co-passenger on Forlan’s flight, requesting not to be named. “On-board the 28-hour long flight from Montevideo, Forlan was mostly sleeping,” he added.

On a three-day visit to Kolkata to be part of a sports reality TV show, Forlan woke up early on Saturday morning to hit the ground at Salt Lake Stadium. “He was scheduled to practise for 45 minutes, but he had so much fun, he stretched it to nearly two hours,” said a source from the Bengali channel Mahua Bangla.

The Golden Ball winner of the 2010 World Cup coached a group of young boys with whom he will play an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan this evening.

Seeing the enthusiasm of the kids, the striker recalled his own childhood. “When I was a kid, I too used to behave in the same way — awestruck and waiting to see my football icons,” he said.

Forlan, who has tormented the best goalkeepers in the world with his accurate freekicks, surprised everyone with his role reversal — he decided to be the goalkeeper and challenged the young guns to get past him.

“I have done this [goalkeeping] before, but not of course on a bigger stage,” he said. Though Forlan is still on a “strict FIFA diet”, those travelling with him plan to introduce him to Bengali cuisine. Another thing on Forlan’s itinerary is a visit to Mother Teresa’s home in Kolkata.