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Kerala jeweller to honour ‘close friend’ Diego Maradona with museum

The proposed infotainment centre is set to have a life-size gold sculpture of Diego Maradona scoring his infamous "The Hand of God" goal as its chief attraction.

Boby Chemmanur's relationship with Diego Maradona began in 2011. (File)

Boby Chemmanur, a Kerala-born business magnate and philanthropist, announced on Monday the building of a museum in memory of Diego Maradona, with a gold sculpture of the football legend as the main attraction.

The life-size sculpture will represent ‘The Hand of God’, the historic goal that the Argentine forward scored in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final against England, revealed Boby, who was instrumental in bringing the star to a visit to Kerala eight years ago.

The proposed museum, which will showcase Maradona’s professional and personal life, is set to be built in Kolkata or south India. The museum will blend the aesthetics of art and technology, Boby told a press conference in Kochi.

Recalling his “close friendship” with Maradona for a decade, Boby said the relationship began with him at Dubai in 2011. Later Maradona inaugurated a Chemmanur jewellery showroom in Dubai.

“I gifted Maradona a miniature gold statue of his figure. Accepting it, the football star expressed the desire to see his life-size gold sculpture related to ‘The Hand of God’,” Boby, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Boby Chemmanur International Group, added.

“I am extremely happy to be fulfilling that desire of Maradona,” said Boby, also a social worker and martial artiste.

Diego Maradona with Boby Chemmanur in Kerala in 2012. (File)

The 157-year-old Boby Chemmanur Group, headquartered in Thrissur with 50-plus outlets across the globe, had Maradona as its ambassador after the Argentine signed a deal in March 2018.

Maradona was in the northern part of the state for two days in October 2012 to inaugurate a showroom of Chemmannur Jewellers in Kannur.

“The museum is my tribute to Maradona. It will be a storehouse of information related to the great player and his football. It will function as a centre for entertainment of international standards,” Boby said.

The curator of the museum will be artist-writer Bony Thomas, a founder-trustee of Kochi Biennale Foundation that conducts India’s biggest contemporary art festival.

“Maradona has always been a wonder to me — as a footballer with no parallels and as a friend with immense warmth,” said the entrepreneur. Describing the footballer as “a sensitive and honest person”, Boby said Maradona was “short-tempered” because he was “emotional”.

Hailed as one of the game’s all-time greats, Maradona captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup victory after beating West Germany 3-2 in the final. He died in his Buenos Aires home on November 24 following a heart attack at the age of 60, days after undergoing brain surgery.

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