When it comes to welcoming heroes, this city never fails to pull out all stops. Be it the thousands of people running along the bus that carried El Diego or the night vigil at the airport to get a glimpse of Lionel Messi. Two years ago, the city came to a standstill to celebrate Kolkata Knight Riders’ first IPL win, with almost the entire squad snaking through its roads in an open cavalcade that ended at a packed Eden Gardens where politicians felicitated them.
Atletico de Kolkata sought to break away from all that on Sunday. Whisked away in their team bus that made a whistle-stop tour of an upmarket shopping mall, Sourav Ganguly’s boys celebrated with bubbly in front of a few hundred people before leaving for their respective homes in batches.
The only surprise was the out-of-the-blue appearance of Fikru Teferra, who according to ATK had been released just before the final. Fikru refused to answer whether he was in Kolkata all this time but said he had to be present at the airport. “I was with the team from the first day. I watched the match too. I had to be here to receive them,” said the Ethiopian.
Nothing about the ‘homecoming’ though was as hysterical as in 2012 when Trevor Morgan, then East Bengal coach, was smeared with colours at the airport by rooting, weeping supporters after winning the Federation Cup.