Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Messi fever grips nation

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Argentina’s star footballer Lionel Messi arrives for practice at a stadium, after landing in Kolkata to play a friendly match against Venezuela, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Kolkata: Over 2,000 delirious soccer lovers gave sleep the miss as they danced, cried and shouted slogans near the airport eulogising football magician Lionel Messi, who spent his first day here obliging adoring fans and doing a light tune-up at the Salt Lake stadium on Wednesday.

Long hours of sleep to shake off jet lag, visit to the coffee shop at the team hotel for a small bite of chicken grilled sandwich, marked the Argentine soccer great’s day after he arrived in this football-loving city in the early hours.

Soon after his flight touched down at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Messi was virtually mobbed as everybody from the immigration officials to the security personnel started posing with the 24-year-old striker for a photo of a lifetime.

“As soon as he came into the airport, many almost fell over him. He was made to stand at the immigration for a long time as all officials wanted to spend time with him,” said an official of the Celebrity Management Group, promoters of Friday’s FIFA official international Argentina-Venezuela friendly match which has brought Messi to the city.

At the hotel, Messi was given a traditional Indian welcome with a marigold garland and a tika. He later said he liked the colour of the garland.

The hotel chef prepared delicacies which Messi is fond of, but he went to sleep after munching only some sausages and sandwiches. (IANS)

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