Argentine football legend Diego Maradona is set to kick off the football carnival in India during his September 18-19 visit, about a month ahead of Kolkata’s historic date with the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Final.
This will be the 1986 World Cup winner’s second visit to the city after December 2008 when thousands of fans gathered to welcome him past midnight at the airport.
Confirming this in a video-conference call with the promoter of the trip in the wee hours of Wednesday, the 56-year-old said he is very excited to visit West Bengal after nearly 10 years.
“It is such an honour for me to be able to make this trip. Kolkata is a very special place and I have good memories from my trip there many years ago, the fans were fantastic,” Maradona said.
“India is a very passionate football nation, and I look forward to meeting a whole new generation of fans while continuing to spread the overwhelming love that I have for this beautiful game.”
The two-day visit to the city will be made more special as the icon will play a charity football match against former India captain Sourav Ganguly on September 19, the day of Mahalaya that marks the beginning of Durga Puja festival.
“This will be called the ‘Match for Unity’, and will not be an 11-a-side. We will try to ensure that Maradona remains in the spotlight. Besides Ganguly there will be a host of other celebrities. We are finalising the venue,” Satadru Dutta, who is the partner of 7d Ventures and Founder of Moksh Sports Ventures, the promoter of Maradona’s trip told PTI.
Maradona will also be felicitated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“It will be followed with an award show where Maradona will be given the Lifetime Achievement award by the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee,” Dutta said. “We will also be having a football workshop with budding young talents as well,” he added.
Maradona will also be felicitated by ‘Ami Banglai Dheki Swapno’, a foundation consisting of eminent people of Bengal.
The trip is sponsored by Dhulaiwala, an app-based laundry services as the Argentine legend will be seen inaugurating the Dhulaiwala palace.
Dr Matias Morla, advocate of Maradona said, “We thank Satadru Dutta for making this visit a reality and look forward to have a wonderful time specially during the festive times in Kolkata.”
Feature Image: AFP