By Pradyu M
Diego Maradona, the god of football, visited two Indian cities during his lifetime – Kolkata and Kannur (Kerala) and both these places are known for its madness for soccer.
We the people of Kannur, Kerala cherish the day Maradona came to our city eight years ago. Maradona came, Maradona saw, and Maradona conquered the hearts of the people of Kannur. The God of football came to Kannur on October 23, 2012, and it was a private visit sponsored by an international jewellery company. The whole city was in a frenzy and I remember the roads and the premises around the hotel in which Maradona stayed was jam-packed with soccer fans who came from far and near. The city of Kannur which has a rich legacy of producing some of the best footballers for the state and for the nation was all decked with huge posters, banners and hoardings to welcome the legend. Maradona came in a helicopter.
Thousands of fans waited patiently in front of the hotel for hours together to have a glimpse of the greatest of soccer players. As soon as they saw him waving from the balcony of the hotel room the whole populace went in euphoria – whistling, clapping, shouting, dancing and some even crying, for that type of a vibe did he create in them. Then later at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium where the organisers conducted a special function, Maradona mesmerised the biggest crowd the city ever saw with his football stunts, dance and songs!
When footballs were shot into the gallery by the legend the spectators made a mad rush to possess the balls ending up in ‘ rugby ‘ matches on the gallery! Maradona even cut a huge cake made especially for him in the replica of a stadium and football but the legend, witnesses say, made it sure that he didn’t slice the football because for him it was his life and soul! Maradona left Kannur with golden memories the people will cherish forever.
The hotel room, room number 309, in which the soccer god stayed has been turned into a ‘shrine’ where all the things he used during his stay has been kept intact. The hotel management also allows only Maradona fans to stay in that extra-special room! His memories linger on in the hearts of soccer fans here and the everlasting energy left by the legend is felt even now in the stadium and the place where he stayed.