New Delhi/UNI: Indian football stars with the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and among others grieved the passing away of one of football’s greatest legends, Diego Maradona, who enthralled fans across the world with his skills and had wowed fans in India during his multiple visits to the country in the past as well.
The former Argentine captain and World Cup winner had, on his visits to India, met a number of footballing stars of the past and present. Former India international and ex-Technical Director Shabbir Ali lamented the loss that the beautiful game has suffered after Maradona passed away on Wednesday aged 60.
"It is really shocking to hear that he has departed. This is a big loss for football. He was such a world-class player and such a big personality in the game. The fact that he could single-handedly carry teams and mesmerise crowds is something that made him all the more special," he told aiff.com.
Ali, who has been a long-time fan of El Diego, had a few near misses with the Argentine legend in his younger years – firstly in 1984 when India played Argentina in the Nehru Gold Cup, a match for which Maradona did not come to India, and secondly in the FIFA World Cup 1994 in the USA.
"I was really looking forward to playing against him or meeting him on those occasions. But sadly, he did not come with the team in '84, and 10 years later, at the World Cup, there was too much security around him," said Ali. "But, I was happy to have finally met him on his tour to Kolkata, where I was the coach in the charity match."
Another former India international who was present on this same occasion was Subrata Bhattacharya, who was the coach of the opposing side in the charity match.