Lionel Messi's visit to Kolkata promises be a great spectacle for the football fans. But what makes the Argentine's visit even more epic than the past celebrity visits?The football origin in India can be traced way back into the mid-nineteenth century when the game was first introduced by British soldiers. Kolkata, being the then capital of British India, was quick to enrich their genes with this new found footballing passion and ever since then football has always been an integral part of the Kolkata cult.
Although the footballing standards may not have vastly evolved or developed since then, but it has been the interest and the passion for it that has remained ever increasing and growing till date. In the truest of essence, despite the emergence of football in Kerala, Goa and other parts of India, Kolkata still is THE "Mecca of Football" in India.
For the people, it is a source of pride and self esteem. Indeed, the emotions attached to the game here is unparalleled by any other!
The Passion For Football in Kolkata is Unparalleled
However, as the second day of September dawns ever so close over the city of Joy, Kolkata, in her all her 100+ years of footballing history, will arguably witness THE greatest spectacle it has ever come across.
In a way, perhaps a fitting tribute to this football crazy city, that they had for long been deprived of.
The Argentina versus Venezuela international friendly at Salt-Lake Stadium will indeed be an event one of it's kind. Something for the fans to savour and cherish for the rest of their lives.
Yes, one may argue that countries such as the then Soviet Union and several eminent World Cuppers have already visited Kolkata before. So has the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele. But unlike both the cases, this has something very special about it.
Kolkata has come a long way in "footballing exposure-wise" since the 80s and the early 90s when top teams played serious matches at their backyard. With the extensive telecast of European Football, people now are more aware of the stardom of the Messi-s and the Aguero-s.
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While the earlier teams might have had good players at their disposal, but back then the bigger masses of football lovers were only enclosed within the likes of Maradona and Pele; in fact to be more precise only between the so called "Greats".
It was the realization of something big that lacked during those days. Maybe not completely, but to an extent it did have an effect.
While Lionel Messi does fill in the "Great player" criteria anyway, the likes of Javier Pastore, Sergio Aguero and co. too share notable presence among the football fans here this time around. For the modern European-centric generation, this is a match where they will be able to relate with most of the players.
Moreover, this is the only time when a player of Lionel Messi's stature has come to the city when he is at the peak of his career. Unlike the previous visits of Maradona and Pele where their arrival were more of a mere "appearance", with only Pele having played an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan, rather than any serious football.
Unlike the much-hyped Maradona visit, Messi's arrival will be marked with serious Football
In the midst of this euphoria, however, one thing that we are missing out on is Messi's opponents for the day- Venezuela. While they may not be the glamour boys of football, here is a team which has an exceptionally strong group of players, having had finished higher up than Argentina in the recently concluded Copa America; semi-finals to be precise.
The team might not have ever qualified for the World Cup, very much like the Indians themselves, but they are arguably one of the most improved lot in world football over the past five years.
Something for the fans and players here to draw inspiration from!
Venezuela's Rise Should Be Inspirational For The Indians
By no stretch of imagination can we consider them as a mere "push-over". Rather they promise to be the ideal opponents who can produce the much called for "thrilling match". Thus, giving yet another reason for the fans to look forward to the match.
The friendly may not go a long way in enhancing Indian Football as a whole, but as a mere event, it is something of epic proportions. For fans, it is an once in a lifetime opportunity. Keeping aside, all the financial gains and other issues, one can be rest assured it will be fans who will be the biggest winners.
How big is the Argentina Friendly to the football fans from Kolkata? Share YOUR views in the comments section.
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