Diego Maradona dodges Sourav Ganguly’s charity football match, has fun with children
Diego Maradona’s planned friendly against Sourav Ganguly’s team did not materialise but the 57-year-old Argentinian legend had a ball with school children during his private three-day visit to India.football Updated: Dec 13, 2017 16:40 IST
He may look like a beach ball but there is still some magic in that left foot. And even though Diego Maradona is a 57-year-old grandfather, give him a football and watch the kid in him come alive. It did on Tuesday afternoon at a school some 34 km away from Kolkata.
A lot has changed in the Indian sports landscape since Maradona last came. In the nine Decembers between his visits, India has seen Lionel Messi play an international, World Cup winners Alessandro del Piero, Alessandro Nesta and Joan Capdevila kit up for competitive games and Zico and Marco Materazzi coach teams.
But then, there are football legends and there is Maradona. He has inspired a religion and stays every bit a showman. So it fit that Maradona would have the 7000-odd at the Aditya School of Sports in Kadambagachi near Barasat eating out of his hands. It didn’t matter that he spoke and sang in Spanish. What mattered was that he was there.
Entering to a confetti shower, Maradona made the right noises about doing his bit for football in India on this private three-day visit and signed off with a kiss. He kicked footballs into the crowd and posed for shutterbugs but really looked in his element during a 30-minute football clinic with around 60 children.
Wearing No. 10 shirts, the boys and girls queued, took a pass from him and fired a shot, an experience memorable enough for them to tell their grandchildren. Especially those who dribbled past Argentina’s most famous football captain.
Seemingly caught in the moment, Maradona even put that left foot to use. In 2008, he had ended a media conference by balancing a football on his head with a smile that dazzled like the midday sun. In a life where a lot of things have gone awry, Maradona’s cosmic connect with a football has defied time.
The session over, Maradona emerged again to provide a different kind of entertainment. Ear-stud glinting in the sun, he joined singer Charles Anthony to sing as former India football stars such as Sisir Ghosh, Prasun Banerjee and Dipendu Biswas looked on and others tried preserving that moment on their phone. The song ended with a cry of ‘Viva India’ and a hug and kiss on Anthony’s cheek.
Possibly because he was tired, the planned 40-minute match with a team lead by Sourav Ganguly, a self-confessed Maradona admirer whose first love stays football, and Maradona’s team though didn’t happen because the legend left after kicking off proceedings.