Argentina’s football wizard Diego Maradona will visit Kolkata on September 18-19 this year, about a month ahead of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Final in that city.
Confirming his visit in a video-conference call with the promoter of the trip in the wee hours today, the 56-year-old said he is very excited to visit West Bengal after nearly a decade. "It is such an honour for me to be able to make this trip. Kolkata is a very special place and I have good memories from my trip there many years ago, the fans were fantastic," Maradona said.
This will be the 1986 World Cup winner's second visit to Kolkata after December 2008 when he had been given a rousing reception past midnight at the airport.
"India is a very passionate football nation and I look forward to meeting a whole new generation of fans while continuing to spread the overwhelming love that I have for this beautiful game."
During the visit, Maradona will feature in a charity football match against the city's favourite son and former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly on September 19, the start of the countdown to the Durga Puja festival.
"This will be called the 'Match for Unity', and will not be an 11-a-side. We will try to ensure that Maradona remains in the spotlight. There will be a host of other celebrities. We are finalising the venue," Satadru Dutta, who is the partner of 7d Ventures and Founder of Moksh Sports Ventures, the promoter of Maradona's trip, told the media.
Maradona will also be felicitated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who will confer on him Lifetime Achievement award, Dutta said. "We will also be having a football workshop with budding young talents as well," he added.
Maradona will also be felicitated by 'Ami Banglai Dheki Swapno', a foundation consisting of eminent people of Bengal.