Maradona dribbles past formal functions

Updated: 07 December 2008 15:50 IST

Visibly tired by the hectic schedule on his first visit, soccer legend Diego Maradona cut short his programmes on the final day of his trip on Sunday.


Visibly tired by the hectic schedule on his first visit, soccer legend Diego Maradona cut short his programmes on the final day of his two-day trip on Sunday, though he ensured that his die-hard fans do not go home dejected.

Maradona was supposed to spend 45 minutes at the Mohun Bagan ground for a football clinic for young boys but the Argentine superstar spent just 10 minutes there, though the thousands of crazy fans enjoyed every bit of his stay there.

The day also witnessed a stray incident of scuffle as policemen roughed up the mediapersons waiting for Maradona outside former chief minister Jyoti Basu's residence.

Maradona, after arriving at the Mohun Bagan ground, chose not to sit on the makeshift dais and receive the bouquets. He went straight to the field where the Bhowanipore and Mohun Bagan U-12 boys lined up for the clinic. Amid boisterous crowd cheer, Maradona hugged the sub-junior boys and blessed them before doing his famous jugglery in the middle.

He went around near every stand, kicking the ball at the crowd as he went on asking for more balls.

Spotting an Argentine national flag to the left side of the field, Maradona went near the goal post and then juggled the ball over his head as the crowd erupted in joy.

Later, he went towards the entrance of the ground and kissed the field thrice and, like a fanatic football fan, jumped over the barricade where all the shutterbugs were stationed and then in a typical Diego style thumped his chest, yelling 'Argentina, Argentina'.

Giving a skip to the scheduled programme on the dais, Maradona chose to go out of ground from the passageway, which left the state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty zapped.

Apparently, Maradona was "annoyed" at the chaos at the felicitation at Yuba Bharati Krirangan last night and chose to give a miss to the formal felicitation function organised by Mohun Bagan officials.

Asked why the Argentine legend chose to cut short the day's programme and spent only 10 minutes at the Mohun Bagan ground, Dharamdutt Pande of Celebrity Management Group (CMG) said, "Obviously he was tired and wanted to take some rest in between. After all, he has come after a 31-hour-long journey. Even the weather here is totally different, so it might not have suited him. However, he made sure that all the programmes in his itinerary remain in place."

Maradona also skip his breakfast to make his visit to the Missionaries of Charity which marked the beginning of the day.

Realising his long-cherished dream of visiting the Mother's House, Maradona accompanied by girl friend Veronica prayed at Mother Teresa's abode at 11.10am.

Maradona and Veronica were welcomed by the nuns and greeted by children standing in rows who offered the soccer wizard flowers. A huge crowd also thronged the road outside.

Amid tight security with hardly anyone including the media allowed inside, Maradona spent over half an hour praying and learning about the Mother's work from the nuns.

The duo embraced the children and shared love with them, mostly orphans who lived there.

Maradona stood near the flower-bedecked tomb of Mother Teresa and lit a candle amid prayers by the nuns. He prayed for a while with hands folded close to his chest, before kissing the marble tomb. Veronica followed suit.

Sister Nirmala, Superior General of the order, was also present while a Spanish speaking nun briefed Maradona about the place and Maradona wrote a few words in Spanish in the visitors' book.

Before leaving, Maradona bid adieu to the little children with a "bye bye". He kissed some of them and shook hands with others, while stroking their heads.

Coming out with some books on the Mother, he was again cheered by hundreds of hysteric fans who were waiting to have a glimpse of him. The frenzied fans broke down the police barricade opposite the Mother's House on the arterial AJC Bose Road in a bid to have a better view.

Maradona, however, repeated his Saturday's act of thumping his chest with his hand and blowing kisses in the air as if saying, "I am for all of you".

Maradona was scheduled to visit former chief minister Jyoti Basu at his residence Indira Bhavan in the morning, but because of the scuffle between the policeman and mediapersons, the meeting was rescheduled in the afternoon.

The soccer legend spent 10 minutes with Basu, the two talking through interpreters. During the tete-a-tete, Maradona was presented with a portrait of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The nonagenarian former chief minister wished Maradona a long life.

Outside the residence of Basu a dais was erected for the 1986 World Cup hero to address the fans but there too, he did not climb the dais and chose to head straight to his hotel.

Topics : Football
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