When Lionel Messi Left an Everlasting Impression on India’s City of Joy, Kolkata
The name Messi means the world to Bengalis in Kolkata and all over West Bengal as the football-crazy state's fandom is a testament of his everlasting impression.
New Delhi: Lionel Messi turns 35 today and the whole world is busy pouring in the best of wishes to their beloved idol. He has been loved and adored through out the globe, but there is one such place La Pulga visited, where he has found himself a special corner in the hearts of the people.
It was a festive occasion when the GOAT graced India’s ‘City of Joy’ in Kolkata, some 11 years ago back in 2011.
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The year 2011 is very special for Messi as he took his then club Barcelona to a 4th Champion League title, clinched his third consecutive Ballon D’or and on top of that, he was the undisputed best player in the world.
It was 31st August,2011 🤩
Lionel Messi in KOLKATA 🔥🔥
Messi 🐐 in action during the historic Argentina vs Venezuela international friendly at Salt Lake Stadium.⚽️
.#messi #messiinkolkata #kolkata #argentina #fifafriendly
🎥 : News Hour India (Youtube) pic.twitter.com/MTuMK9H9og
— SportskiPEDIA (@PediaSportski) April 2, 2019
On 2nd September 2011, Messi travelled to India with the Argentine national team to play a FIFA international friendly against South American neighbours Venezuela. Kolkata has always been the best suited destination for a match of such magnitude as it is proudly called, ‘The Mecca of Indian Football’. The craze for football among the Bengalis and the people of Kolkata is unparalleled due to their rich history in providing Indian football, many of the best talents of the country and of course the rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
The city also has a big fanbase of Argentina and Brazil fans which has been passed onto generations and during the FIFA World Cups the city gets literally divided into two halves. So Lionel Messi gracing the city was a big occasion for the Bengalis. Diego Maradona also visited the city three years back in 2008 and now Messi coming to the former capital of India was a cherry on the cake. Over the years, Kolkata has been host to many big names in world football such as Pele, Lothar Matthaus, Diego Forlan, Zico and Paul Breitner.
People had to stand in big queues to get hold of the match ticket and there were many heart-broken fans who didn’t get the opportunity to witness the magician play live. On match day, the venue was filled with 75,000 spectators at the majestic Salt Lake Stadium, a stadium which was once the second largest of the lot in the world. A big occasion called for big names attending the match as Bollywood superstars, ministers also turned up to catch a glimpse of the great man.
The match went in favour of La Albiceleste as the 2-time World Champions won the match by 1-0. Nicholas Otamendi scored the winning goal from a corner, assisted by the great man himself. The PSG star had his fair share of chances during the match but couldn’t find the back of the net. But whenever he had the possession, the Kolkata crowd cheered for him in unison.
Lionel Messi’s birthday celebration in Kolkata, is almost like an annual state level festival.
📸 @gubchandrolai pic.twitter.com/iJi7gVeop5
— Sivan John (@SivanJohn_) June 26, 2021
The left-footed magician has left such an influence on the Bengalis, a die-heart Messi fan Shib Shankar Patra painted his tea stall cum house in Argentina- Blue and White colours. He named his teal stall, ‘Argentina Tea Stall’ and is located at Nawabganj township in West Bengal’s Ichhapur . The Patra family celebrates his birthday every year by painting their locality in Argentina colours, distributing sweets to the neighbours and cutting an Argentina themed cake in his honour.
The name Messi means the world to Bengalis in Kolkata and all over West Bengal as the football-crazy state’s fandom is a testament to his everlasting impression.
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