Kannur hosted Maradona in 2012…
Travel from one end of Kerala to the other and you will spot multiple boards and signboard by Argentina football team fans declaring their love for their football legend Diego Maradona.
The football-loving state, which declared two-day mourning following the Argentinian’s passing on Wednesday, absolutely adored the Napoli forward who was a magician with the ball at his feet.
There are only two places in India that has been visited by Maradona and Kerala is one of them.
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On October 24, 2012, the district of Kannur stood still. Over 50,000 people flocked to the place where Maradona set foot. It was a packed atmosphere and his first few words after getting on the dais were, “I love you Kerala!” which was received with a huge roar of appreciation and affection.
Maradona was brought to the state by Kerala businessman Boby Chemmannur who met the footballer during his time abroad and convinced him to become the brand ambassador of his jewellery chain. The occasion was the opening of a new showroom but it didn’t matter – Kannur was all about football that day.
Alongside him on stage was his fan and Indian football legend IM Vijayan. Vijayan had reached the hotel where Maradona stayed on the previous day hoping to see the Argentine. All Vijayan wanted was a photograph with the World Cup winner but it was late in the day and he couldn’t get the photo he wanted.
The next day, Vijayan went on stage and not only spoke to the football legend but also played keepy-uppy with him in front of thousands of football lovers.
Maradona sang songs, danced to his favourite tunes and even cut a 30 kg cake to celebrate his birthday (which was in November) in advance. He gave thousands of people some great memories and will always be remembered by the people in the state.