• Sunday, July 21, 2024

INDIA

Ronaldinho dazzles at Durga puja celebrations in India’s Kolkata

On a day India’s union home minister Amit Shah also came to inaugurate a Durga puja pandal, it was the Brazil legend who took all the limelight

Kolkata, Oct 17 (ANI): Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho Gaúcho seen enjoying at Sreebhumi Sporting Club, in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI Photo)

By: Eastern Eye

BRAZILIAN legend Ronaldinho was in Kolkata last Sunday (22) to usher in an early onset of the Durga puja festival.

The Durga puja, the grandest festival in the region, traditionally commences on the sixth day (Shasthi) following Mahalaya, but it got rolling on the second day itself with the Ronaldinho inaugurating a series of pandals.

On a day India’s union home minister Amit Shah also came to inaugurate a Durga puja pandal, it was the Brazil legend who took all the limelight. Wherever he went, chants of ‘Ronaldinho, Ronaldiho’ and ‘Brazil, Brazil’ echoed through the crowd, as hundreds of fans eagerly gathered to catch a glimpse of the former Barcelona and AC Milan star. The world cup winner and twot i m e world player of the year was dressed up in casual shorts, a loosely-fitted navy blue Tshirt, and topping it with his signature snapback cap.

 “Muchas gracias. Mucho carino (many thanks, much affection),” Ronaldinhp said with ‘I Love You’ gesture with his iconic smile captivating his fans who followed him everywhere he went.

The 43-year-old, who checked in late last Sunday, defied jetlag and began his day heading to inaugurate his academy — “R10” — at Merlin Rise residential complex on the eastern suburbs.

Hundreds of kids of various age groups gathered at the academy to catch a glimpse of their favourite Brazilian star, who shot himself into limelight with his extraordinary dribbling skills, close ball control, and creativity on the field during their 2002 World Cup triumph.

A giant screen on the backdrop of the stage showed Ronaldinho’s gretest football moments, including his spectacular long-range free-kick that virtually ended England’s fate in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinal.

Ronaldinho dazzles at Durga puja celebrations in India's Kolkata

His next destination was in north Kolkata, where he inaugurated a Durga puja pandal designed around a Disneyland theme.

Ronaldinho got a traditional Hindu welcome, with a tilak on forehead as he showed curiosity, exploring the pandal while inquiring about the rituals. Ronaldinho also paid floral tributes to a statue of Argentine icon Diego Maradona who had also enthralled Kolkata’s football fans during visits in 2008 and 2017.

Calling on Mamata Banerjee was the next on Ronaldinho’s agenda, as he headed to the West Bengal chief minister’s residence in Kalighat where officials of the ‘Big Three’ clubs — Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting — welcomed him.

“The CM (Banerjee) briefed him about the clubs’ century-old legacies, and he appeared deeply engrossed. The CM also requested him to consider sending more Brazilian players to Kolkata to elevate the standards of the game. We all presented him with club jerseys,” East Bengal’s top official, Nitu Sarkar, told PTI.

Ronaldinho also met with East Bengal sponsors later in the day. The Brazilian then took part in an official trophy handing ceremony of the Calcutta Football League Premier Division tournament, crowning Mohammedan Sporting champions at the Indian Football Association.

There were more Durga puja pandal inauguration, this time crisscrossing the city extending to the southern suburbs in Narendrapur and Baruipur, but Ronaldinho remained high in spirits and obliged his fans at every stop.

Ronaldinho completed his visit with an exhibition match at the south-western suburb of Maheshtala in the afternoon.

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