Diego Maradona has arrived in Kolkata for the much-hyped Dada versus Diego exhibition game. The match involving City of Joy’s own cricket icon Sourav Ganguly and the 1986 World Cup champion captain Diego Maradona will now take place on December 12.
Legendary Maradona finally kept his date with the football-crazy city for a three-day private trip, which was originally scheduled in September. This is Maradona’s second visit to the city after December 2008, when thousands of fans gathered near the airport and lined up the streets well past midnight to welcome the football icon.
His present trip was however mired in postponements for more than once and an uncertainty loomed till the last minute. Thus, it turned out to be a low-key arrival for Maradona with only handful reporters and officials turning up at the airport, according to reports.
Originally scheduled to arrive on September 19, on the day of Mahalaya to kickstart the auspicious Durga Puja festival, Maradona was to unveil his statue beside inaugurating a north Kolkata pandal.
With Durga Puja over, Maradona’s schedule has been altered a bit as he will now meet some cancer-afflicted patients in a charity at the same club and will also lay the foundation stone of his statue tomorrow afternoon. He also has some sponsors commitments towards the evening and will attend a gala dinner.
“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 much-hyped Dada versus Diego exhibition will take place on December 12 on the outskirts of Barasat, about 35 kilometres from the city. It is however not clear whether Maradona would play the full match as he had undergone a shoulder surgery a few days back, while frequent change of dates would also mean many celebrities, who were originally slated to come, may give it a miss.