Bhutia gung ho about Maradona's visit

Having grown up watching Diego Maradona, Bhaichung Bhutia is all excited to see his one-time idol during the Argentine legend's two-day trip to Kolkata.

updated: December 05, 2008 14:00 IST
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Having grown up watching Diego Maradona, Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia is very excited about his one-time idol's visit to Kolkata. The Argentine legend's two-day trip to the city begins late on Friday.

Bhaichung, who was a 10-year-old kid when the iconic Argentine led his country to the FIFA World Cup in 1986, said Maradona is someone who has inspired everybody.

In fact, the Indian ace was born in a year (1976) which has got equal importance for Maradona, who made his professional debut in the same year on October 20.

Inspired by Maradona's maverick shows in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, where Argentina were the champions and runners-up, respectively, Bhaichung too made his foray into national football beginning with his stellar performance in 1992 Subrata Cup.

"Maradona is everybody's hero. I have grown watching him. It's really nice to see him coming to India for the first time. I am too excited about his Kolkata trip. I am waiting to meet him which will be for the first time," Bhaichung, who donned the India cap for the first time in 1992 in a sub-junior tournament in the erstwhile Dacca, said.

Bhutia and Dulal Biswas will lead two teams in an exhibition match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) in Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday, which will be watched by the football legend himself.

At the YBK, a grand felicitation awaits Maradona who will land in Kolkata late on Friday.

"We will meet him during the match... We are all excited to see him in person," added Bhutia.

While Bhutia's team will be coached by Karim Bencherifa and Stanley Rosario, Subrata Bhattacharya and Shabbir Ali will coach Biswas's team.

However, the Indian skipper is not sure whether Maradona's visit will help develop the sport in India, even as the current Argentine national coach has insisted on conducting a football clinic at the Mohun Bagan ground where U-12 boys from the hosts club and Bhowanipore will attend.

Maradona, in fact, has been brought in by the Celebrity Management Group (CMG) to lay the foundation stone of the Maheshtala-located Indian Football School near Kolkata.

"I'm not very sure about his trip doing good for the betterment of football in India. We can't just expect his being here will change things. We need to have a long-term plan in place for the coaching centre and develop it accordingly. We need to do the follow-up. But it's good if he comes, it will help generate awareness about the game," Bhutia said.

His Mohun Bagan strike partner Jose Ramirez Barreto is also all geared up for Maradona's visit.

"It's great that he is coming here. For the small kids, youngsters who will see the legend in person, it will be a dream come true. I am sure it will inspire them like he has inspired us," the Brazilian striker added.