The state capital on Thursday mourned the death of legendary football player Diego Maradona who passed away on Wednesday following a cardiac arrest. From politicians to sports personalities, tributes poured in for Maradona who had visited the city twice – in 2008 and 2017. Maradona, who led Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the death of the football player. “My deepest condolences to his family, friends and countless fans around the world. The entire football family has lost one of its greats,” Banerjee wrote in her Facebook account.
CPM leader Shamik Lahiri recalled his interactions with Maradona when he had visited the player’s residence in Argentina.
“I remember when we had met him at his residence in Argentina. Three of us went to meet him to invite him to visit Kolkata. We were waiting for him in a room. He gave us only five minutes’ time. He entered the hall wearing a T-shirt and shorts and welcomed us with open arms. He hugged all three of us in such a way that we are like his old acquaintances. We never realised that we were meeting the footballer legend for the first time. Instead of five minutes, our meeting lasted for an hour,” Lahiri told mediapersons.
Maradona, who had openly claimed to be a Communist throughout his life and idolised Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, had also met former West Bengal Chief Minister and communist icon Jyoti Basu in 2008.
“I remember I had told him that we also have a Communist legend, Jyoti Basu, and he is like Fidel Castro for us. He immediately expressed interest to meet Basu. The time slot was only for 10 minutes for the meeting. However, the meeting extended for an hour. Maradona was that simple and innocent a human being,” said Lahiri.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo tweeted, “Whenever I faced a challenge in life & a goal seemed impossible, I saw some of #MaradonaMagic & the belief that ‘Impossible Is Nothing’, bounced back into my mind ! Even forced my wife, who was least interested in football, watch #Maradona to convince ‘Football is beautiful’ RIP.”
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly tweeted along with a photograph of him when Maradona had visited Kolkata for the second time in December, 2017.
“My hero no more…my mad genius rest in peace. I watched football for you,” wrote Ganguly.
Maradona, who had played 91 games for Argentina and scored 34 goals, played a crucial role in Argentina winning the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he had also scored the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England.
Meanwhile, members of Maradona Fan Club in the city paid tribute to the legend by garlanding his portrait in Ganguly Bagan area. At Sreebhumi Sporting Club, a silent prayer was held in his memory. Maradona’s statue at Lake Town was also garlanded.
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