Thousands of Kolkatans joined with torches and lamps dispelled the darkness of the night, as people of Kolkatan welcomed football legend Diego Maradona to the city of joy in a carnival atmosphere early morning on Saturday. He reached the Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport at 1.25 a.m on Saturday 06th December 2008. He is in a two-day trip to the city. More than 1,00,000 fans were waiting for Maradona in the Calcutta Airport late night in the winter. People from all parts of the India and Bangladesh came to the airport to welcome him. The flight took 48 hours to reach Kolkata and in the airport he was welcomed by West Bengal sports minister Subhas Chakraborty and the other organizers with flowers.
A picture signed with Maradona
From the Kolkata airport, Maradona and his girlfriend Vernonica were put into a specially designed bus and the window was transparent windows to enable the soccer fans have a little glance of the player, whose heroic performance enabled Argentina win the World Cup in 1986. Everywhere people can be seen in wearing Argentine jerseys and holding Maradona's cutouts and posters welcoming him in different languages like English, Hindi, Bengali and Spanish. Maradona fans were waving flags of India and Argentina and danced madly to the tune of foot-tapping Latin American music.
Maradona after arriving Kolkata Aiport
He would spend the next two days in the city laying the foundation stone of a soccer academy, visiting Missionaries of Charity - Mother Teresa House. It is reported that more than 5000 policemen, including the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and crack commandos were deployed on the entire route of Maradona's convoy to prevent from fans, any terror attacks or breach of peace just considering the Mumbai attacks on 26th November 2008. It is seen that a couple of over-enthusiastic kids climbed the electric lamp posts near the airports just to hoist Argentine flags, forcing the security personnel to step them in and bring them down. On Saturday 07th November, Maradona would be felicitated at the Salt Lake stadium afternoon with Indian Football captain Baichung Bhutia and Diego and would also call on communist patriarch and ex-Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.
Maradona at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Maradona at Missionary of Charity, Kolkata