Shock and disbelief gripped football-crazy Kerala as fans recalled Argentine legend Diego Maradona, who died of a heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires.
Former Indian captain I M Vijayan said it was difficult to believe that the legend was no more.
“It is difficult to believe that he has died,” Vijayan said.
Many others in the state shared Vijayan’s sentiments.
The iconic footballer had visited the southern state for two days in October 2012 for a private event.
For the football-mad fans of the region, it was a god-send opportunity as they could catch a glimpse of their hero from close quarters in Kannur.
Such was the craze for the 1986 World Cup winner that fans had started converging at the stadium three days prior to the event.
Charles Antony, who sings in 14 languages, recalled how the “soccer god” hugged and sang along with him a few spanish songs.
“I have been a musician for 25 years. But I got an identity as a singer when I sang a spanish song in front of Maradona in Kannur stadium,” he said.
Antony was lucky as he got another opportunity to meet Maradona, in Kolkata, and sing before him.
“I feel his love for music is as important as football in his life,” Antony said.
“He was so humble and meeting him was an unforgettable experience.”
Antony sang a few songs in Italian, Cuban and Spanish and the player hugged and kissed him.
Boby said he was only a fan of Maradona when he met him in Dubai for the first time and only wanted to click a snap with him. But, over the years, their friendship grew and he could bring him to Kerala.
“As a person, he was innocent. He didn’t have a world away from football,” he said.