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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kolkata speaks the language of Maradona

Kolkata is speaking the language of the ‘God’ of football.

The Spanish term for saying welcome is painted all across the City, which is swelling in enthusiasm to receive one of most admired deities in the sport’s pantheon Diego Maradona.

Pele’s visit more than three decades ago brought out thousands on the streets. There is definitely going to be a multiplication of the multitude when football’s greatest magician of the modern times sets his foot in the City.

The words of India’s own footballing heroes’ from the times when the country earned instant recognition in the sport give a good indication of the mood of the City on the eve of Maradona’s arrival.

Moment of pride

“It a moment of pride for all those who love the sport to be able to see Maradona from close,” said Chuni Goswami, the captain of Indian team that won gold in the 1962 Asian Games.

“Although no one is going to see his skills, his presence itself is something to cherish,” he added.

“Both of them are great players who were outstanding in their respective roles. Pele was a striker-creator and Maradona was a creator-striker. By that I mean Pele was more of a finisher while Maradona took dribbling and passing to sublime levels,” he said.

Former India captain Biswajit Bhattacharya said Maradona’s visit would help the football crazy people in the country gauge the true merit of football’s superstar.

“People here hardly have the idea about the charm and grandeur of big time football that is played in the developed world. Maradona’s arrival here would give people an idea of how rich the sport really is,” he said.

Bhattacharya said it is a thrilling feeling to have Maradona “in my own city.”

Coming to the present generation players, Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia is excited about seeing the legend he idolises.

“Maradona is every footballer’s hero. I have grown up watching him play,” he said.

“It is a great feeling as a footballer to see a figure like Maradona from close. I am keenly waiting to meet him,” said

Bhutia will be playing an exhibition match during the superstar’s felicitation on Saturday.

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