Stadium near Barasat named after Maradona

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A stadium near Barasat, where Diego Maradona was last seen in action in India, was on Friday named after the football legend.

The Argentine maestro died of heart attack in Buenos Aires on Wednesday at the age of 60.

During his last visit to Kolkata three years ago, Maradona had conducted a football clinic with school children at the Aditya School of Sports in Kadambgachi on the outskirts of Barasat, about 35 kilometres from Kolkata.

“The stadium has now been converted into a full-fledged cricket stadium in the size of Eden Gardens and we have named it ‘Diego Maradona Aditya School of Sports Cricket Stadium’,” chairman of Aditya Group Anirban Aditya told PTI.

“This is the first ever cricket stadium in the Argentine football legend’s name. We also have special Maradona memorabilia in the changing room. The seat and the cloth hanger that Maradona used would now be kept reserved with his autographed No. 10 jersey.”

Maradona was last seen in action in India on December 12, 2007 when he turned up in shorts on a humid afternoon playing with 60-odd school kids. He was seen drenched in sweat, pouring water on his head during the gruelling session. He also crooned Spanish songs and inaugurated a seven-a-side exhibition match featuring former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.

He was slated to feature in the match billed as ‘Diego vs Dada’ but by the time the match began, the 1986 World Cup-winning Argentine captain was completely drained out after the session with school kids.

Anirban Aditya said they had built the stadium in just four months and Maradona was the first sportsperson to step into it.

“I remember taking Maradona from his five-star hotel. He was really tired but when he saw the crowd he became full of life. Initially, it was to be a 45-minute affair but it went on. He had promised he would be back and train the kids. So as a tribute to him we have named the stadium after him.”

Some of the students who had interacted with Maradona at the school were heartbroken.

I had always heard of Maradona but never thought that we can touch him and play with the God of Football. It was completely magical. I will always remember the workshop that he took as the most remarkable event of my life, said 17-year-old Avita Sarkar of Aditya Academy Senior Secondary School.

I was one of the luckiest young boys who got the football pass from Maradona. It was unbelievable, Aritra Sarkar, 18, said.

Built on a 30-acre campus, the school conducted grassroots programmes for ISL franchise ATK Mohun Bagan.

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