I always wanted to come to India: Emiliano Martinez checks in

Kolkata, Jul 3 (PTI) Emiliano Martinez, the significant other of Argentina’s third FIFA World Cup triumph, landed here on Monday as the football-mad city continued its tryst with the stars of the spectator sport.

The city that has hosted the likes of Pele, Maradona, Messi and Cafu will for the first time play host to a reigning World Cup winner whose heroics in the penalty shootout against France last December earned Argentina its first world title in 36 years.

Amid tight security arrangements, the Golden Glove winner of the 2022 World Cup checked into his five-star hotel on EM Bypass. A host of events are lined up for Martinez over the next two days.

He was accorded a warm reception by Mohun Bagan officials at the airport where hundreds of Argentina fans waved the Albiceleste colours.

“I’m feeling great. It’s a lovely country. I’m delighted to be here. I’m really excited. I promised I’m gonna come to India so I’m here. It’s a place I always wanted to come,” Martinez said at the start of his two-day visit.

The 30-year-old Martinez will spend the morning in his hotel.

His engagements in the city will begin with a programme titled ‘Tahader Katha’ in the afternoon where he would interact with about 500 school kids at Biswa Bangla Mela Prangan.

Then, he will head to Mohun Bagan ground where he is slated to felicitate 10 Bengal goalkeepers, including Bhaskar Ganguly and Hemanta Dora.

An exhibition match will be held between Mohun Bagan All Stars and Kolkata Police All Stars in the evening.

On Wednesday, the concluding day of his trip, Martinez will head to Sreebhumi Club in Lake Town where he will be part of the ‘Paanch e Paanch’ programme.

He will award the winners of the programme besides engaging in a football clinic for the youngsters at Santosh Mitra Square.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper flew into the City of Joy from Dhaka where he met the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Terming it an “extraordinary” trip, Martinez wrote on his Instagram: “The people here, with their love, care, and unrivaled hospitality, have truly melted my heart. I eagerly anticipate my return to this beautiful country in the near future.” Martinez presented Hasina with an autographed Albiceleste jersey and he was also seen getting photographed and accepting a bajpakhi (hawk).

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister’s Office, the police, the airport authority, and countless others whose names I might not know but whose efforts were no less significant. You have all played a part in crafting this special bond that I now share with Bangladesh.

“So, until my next visit, I bid you farewell, leaving a piece of my heart here. I am forever charmed by Bangladesh baazpakhi,” Martinez said.

Martinez’s visit adds to the city’s date with football legends.

Famous World Cupper of then USSR, Lev Yashin visited the city twice — once with the Soviet team who toured India in 1955 and as a chief guest during the IFA Shield final in 1973.

Kolkata, then, figured on the world football map when Brazilian great Pele along with fellow World Cupper Carlos Alberto visited with New York Cosmos for an exhibition tie against Mohun Bagan in 1977, which generated huge interest among the city crowd.

German and Bayern Munich legend Oliver Kahn bid farewell to competitive football by playing an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan in the summer of 2008.

Gerd Muller, Karl Heinze Rumminiege and Diego Forlan had also graced the city.

Source: PTI News


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