Kolkata: Soccer superstar Lionel Messi on Sunday bid adieu to his countless football fans as Argentina held their last practice session in the city before leaving for Bangladesh on Monday.
The 24-year-old Messi, who has been the darling of the soccer mad public here ever since he landed in the early hours on Wednesday, waved at the crowd after the team's tune up session got over at the Salt Lake stadium. (Also see: Messi magic in India)
Around 1,000 people, who had turned up to watch Messi and his teammates, responded with cheers as the world's highest rated footballer smiled.
Soon after, Messi kicked three balls one after the other to the stands triggering a scramble to get hold of the priceless treasures.
A young fan, who managed to catch one, seemed overcome with emotion, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
Young sculptor Amit Das presented Messi with a statue of the footballer, who gave him an autograph. "It's my most precious collection," Das said.
This was Messi's way of thanking the people who had been behind him all through the first ever FIFA Official International Friendly in India between Argentina and Venezuela.
Argentina emerged 1-0 winners, with Messi setting up Nicolas Otamendi with a corner which the latter headed in.
"I never even imagined that I will get so much love from the people here. Right from the time I stepped into the airport I have been hearing shouts of Messi, Messi everywhere. I am deeply moved," Messi told Argentine journalists in Spanish.
The practice session was meant to be a closed door one, but the security personnel had to relent following persistent demand of the crowd - who wanted to have a last glance of their heroes.
Defender Pablo Zabaleta said he would love to come back again. "I will share this experience with my (Manchester) City mates. This visit has enriched me as it has given me the opportunity to learn and understand a different culture".
Argentina fly out on Monday morning to the Bangladesh capital Dhaka for a FIFA official international friendly against Nigeria on Tuesday.