In just 20 minutes that the legendary Diego Maradona held centre stage, he danced, sang and demonstrated jaw-dropping football skills to win thousands of hearts at the Municipal Stadium here Wednesday.
Over 50,000 fans started pouring in since early morning for a glimpse of the Argentine star. There were thunderous cheers as he walked into the stadium around 11.30 a.m.
Maradona is in Kerala on an invite from his industrialist friend Bobby Chemmanur.
The footballer could not hide his excitement. He danced to the music and showered flying kisses to his fans from the stage.
Then came rolling, one after the another, over a dozen footballs towards Maradona. Each was rocketed into the crowds. But not before the icon manoeuvred them deftly to amuse his fans.
Amid cheers, Maradona and former India football captain I.M. Vijayan headed a football between them for a few minutes.
The Argentine will turn 52 Tuesday. His birthday was celebrated in advance here.
He cut a cake weighing over 30 kg and shaped like a football ground with a football in the middle. It was prepared by Sheen Bakery here.
Among those present at the function were Home Minister T. Radhakrishnan, Sports Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar and a number of legislators.
"It's a great honour for the God of football to have come to Gods's own country," Vijayan said.
Maradona arrived here Tuesday from Kochi and will take a flight to Dubai from Kozhikode Wednesday evening.