Ronaldinho In Festive Kolkata: Brazil Football Legend Dazzles Fans In The City Of Joy Ahead Of Durga Puja

Yesteryear winger extraordinaire Ronaldinho inaugurated a series of Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata on Monday and will play an exhibition match on Tuesday afternoon

Ronaldinho meets West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on October 16.

Brazil legend Ronaldinho mesmerized the football-loving populace of Kolkata as he arrived in the city to ring in the Durga Puja festivities. Though the five-day puja is supposed to start on October 20, the festivities have already begun in Kolkata with the arrival of Ronaldinho, who inaugurated a series of pandals. Union home minister Amit Shah too landed in Kolkata on Monday to inaugurate a Durga Puja pandal, but it was 'Gaucho' who cornered all the limelight. (Football News)

Wherever the 43-year-old went, 'Ronaldinho, Ronaldinho' and 'Brazil, Brazil' chants emanated from the crowd, as scores of fans waited with bated breath in the hope to spot the former Barcelona and AC Milan star. The yesteryear winger extraordinaire landed late on Sunday, but set aside jetlag and ventured out in the morning to inaugurate his academy "R10" at Merlin Rise residential complex on the eastern suburbs.

Donning a blue T-shirt, casual shorts and his signature snapback cap, Ronaldinho acknowledged the fawning crowd and thanked them with his trademark goofy smile, sending the fans into a tizzy. A massive screen on the backdrop of the stage showed Ronaldinho's magical football moments, including his famous long-range free-kick that bamboozled England goalkeeper David Seaman and virtually sealed the nation's fate in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinal.

Ronaldinho's next destination was in north Kolkata, where he inaugurated a Durga Puja pandal designed around a Disneyland theme. The football demigod, who attained fame with his unrivalled dribbling skills, got a traditional Hindu welcome, with a tilak on the forehead as he showed curiosity, exploring the pandal while inquiring about the rituals.

The Brazilian also paid floral tributes to a statue of Argentine icon Diego Maradona who also had enthralled Kolkata's football fans during his twin visits in 2008 and 2017.

Calling on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was the next on Ronaldinho's agenda, as he headed to her residence in Kalighat where officials of the 'Big Three' clubs -- Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting -- welcomed him.

Ronaldinho also met East Bengal sponsors later in the day. He then took part in an official trophy handing ceremony of the Calcutta Football League Premier Division tournament, crowning Mohammedan Sporting champions at the Indian Football Association.

There were more Durga Puja pandal inaugurations, this time crisscrossing the city extending to the southern suburbs in Narendrapur and Baruipur, but Ronaldinho remained high in spirits and obliged his fans at every stop. 

On Tuesday, more excitement is in store for his fans as Ronaldinho is expected to weave his 'Samba Magic' in an exhibition match at the south-western suburb of Maheshtala in the afternoon.