Fans gather to mourn Maradona - the man who divided a soccer-mad Kolkata

Thursday, 26 Nov, 9.00 pm

Indian football fans gathered in Kolkata on Thursday to mourn the death of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, whose mesmerizing performance and feats in the 1986 World Cup divided fan loyalties in the city.

The 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, which Maradona helped the Argentine team lift, was the first World Cup to be live telecast in India. His dribbling skills and legendary performances as he slalomed a path through defences during the tournament earned him and the Argentine team legions of fans in the country.

"Maradona made people fall in love with Argentina," said Samudra Bose, who was among the hundreds that gathered in Kolkata to pay respects.

"Before Maradona and the 1986 World Cup people were mostly fans of Brazil, but Maradona after the 1986 World Cup divided Kolkata in two halves."

Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, and the states of Kerala and Goa have long had large soccer followings in an otherwise cricket-crazed country.