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Messi ditches desi food

entertainment Updated: Sep 02, 2011 01:27 IST
Ratnalekha Mazumdar
Ratnalekha Mazumdar
Hindustan Times
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He may have extended his stay in India by two days, but soccer superstar Lionel Messi has no plans to sample Indian food while he’s here. The 24-year-old Argentinian, who is considered one of the world’s best footballers, arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday for a friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela at the Salt Lake Stadium in the city today.

However, all the chefs planning Indian culinary delights for him were in for a disappointment when it became clear that he will eat the fare cooked only by a chef who is accompanying his entourage. “The day he reached, he had just juice in the morning, followed by continental breakfast and then slept till lunch. For lunch, he ate light non-vegetarian food,” said a source.

Another source revealed that Messi, who is staying at the Hyatt Regency in Kolkata, stayed in his room till late afternoon and stepped out only after lunch. Later, however, he was spotted chilling out in the hotel’s pool till the practice session started. “Given his erratic schedule, Messi has to be on a careful diet without oil or spices and his system will not be able to support Indian food. He eats only green salads and grilled chicken,” the source added.

Not just Messi, the entire team will eat the Argentinian food prepared by the team’s chef Diego Iacovone, who is travelling with them. This doesn’t mean they aren’t excited about being here. “‘It is a good experience to come to India. To know different people, different cultures, is a good thing for the people and for us,” said the team’s coach, Alejandro Sabella.

Messi will stay back in Kolkata for two more days and sources say he will be visiting the Missionaries of Charity.

Stars in the stands
A bevy of Bollywood stars have descended on Kolkata for today’s match. Actors Ranbir Kapoor, Rahul Bose, Neha Dhupia, Riya Sen, Dino Morea, filmmaker Anurag Basu and musicians Shaan, Usha Uthup and Lalit Pandit will be in the stands. Others expected include Mahima Chaudhury, Babul Supriyo and Kumar Sanu.