Maradona magic enthrals thousands of football fans

Maradona magic enthrals thousands of football fans

Argentine footballer Diego Maradona won the hearts of football crazy fans in the southern Indian state of Kerala by entertaining them with his magical moves with ball, dance and songs at the Municipal Stadium in the state’s northern town of Kannur on Wednesday.

By T K Devasia

Published: Thu 25 Oct 2012, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 2:46 AM

Thousands of soccer fans who thronged the stadium, braving the scorching sun received the football legend with thunderous applause when he ascended the specially-prepared stage at the stadium at around 11am in half-sleeves shirt and jeans.

Spurred by the thunderous cheers from over 50,000 fans gathered at the stadium and many more outside, the 51-year-old veteran clapped, threw flying kisses, waved at the delirious crowd and kicked footballs in all four directions.

The crowd, who waited anxiously since early morning, went ecstatic when he sung a Spanish number and danced with the function’s compere Ranjini Haridas. He even planted a peck on her cheek. He also hugged Kerala’s biggest soccer star IM Vijayan and shared a few headers with him.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he picked up the mike and shouted ‘Viva India’ and ‘I love Kerala’ several times. He also surprised the crowd by singing few lines of a Latin song.

Maradona later cut a soccer field shaped 25-kg cake with a footfall at its centre to celebrate his 52nd birthday that falls on October 30.

The organizers had also brought a cake resembling the trophy that was handed to Maradona when he led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup to mark the occasion.

The crowd had expected him to appear in typical Kerala dhoti and speak a few words in Malayalam.

But the disappointment was made up by the magic spell he cast on the football crazy fans in just 20 minutes he spent at the stadium. The crowd seemed to enjoy every moment he shared with them.

The football king, who is also the brand ambassador of Bobby Chemmanur International Jewellers and Airlines, had come to Kerala to inaugurate their 101st jewellery showroom in the northern town and launch the group’s heli service.

Maradona arrived from his hotel by a car at the scheduled time after making one round of the stadium in a helicopter. Fans greeted him with banners sporting messages ‘Football God is in the God’s Own Country’ and ‘Football God Maradona’. The entire town, where football is considered as religion and Maradona the football God, was decked up with banners and cutouts of Maradona. Huge cutouts of the soccer player, some even twice his size, were seen at every vantage point in the town.

Soccer fans from the neighbouring districts of Malappuram, Calicut and Kasargod had come in large numbers in chartered buses to have a glimpse of the soccer king. Many of them came as early as 4am and waited patiently for their star. “This was a lifetime opportunity for me to see Maradona. He is undoubtedly the world’s best footballer. I never thought I will be able to see him,” said Mohammed Haneef, who came from Malappuram.

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