Kolkata gives legendary goalie Kahn a grand farewell

May 27th, 2008 - 10:17 pm ICT by admin  

By Abhishek Roy
Kolkata, May 27 (IANS) When he started his career two decades back, Germany’s legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn could hardly have imagined that he would end his illustrious professional career thousands of miles away from his homeland. Kahn must have felt elated when 120,000 fans at Salt Lake Stadium gave him a standing ovation as the Bayern Munich goalkeeper entered the turf one last time against city giants Mohun Bagan.

The turnout Tuesday has been the biggest in Indian football in recent years. The Salt Stadium, the second largest in the world, was full to its capacity a decade ago during a local match between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

Kahn was overwhelmed with the atmosphere. “It is a very special moment for me. Thank you for this great night,” he said with an emotional overtone during the break.

Kahn was felicitated by the Indian Football Association (IFA) with a gold-plated ball studded with 8640 diamonds on it. Mohun Bagan club also presented the German with a silver boat, the club’s mascot, and a card for life-time membership.

Kahn left the field in the 55th minute for the next generation, handing over his gloves to youngster Micheal Rensing. He was given a standing ovation as he left the turf, where he earned the name of ‘King Kahn.’

Serpentine queues were seen outside the stadium before the match started as football enthusiasts came to see the 39-year-old shot stopper’s last action.

And once the team bus made its way into the stadium, the security personnel manning the lines had a tough time in controlling the crowd as the spectators tried to break free to have a glimpse of their favourite footballer.

“Hardly we see foreign teams coming to India. And that too a team like Bayern Munich. Moreover, It is the farewell match of Oliver Kahn,” said Shankar Roy, an ardent Mohun Bagan fan.

A huge cheer from the crowd greeted Kahn when he stepped onto the turf for the last time. And the shutterbugs followed him during his warm-up.

Kahn was hardly tested during the match, but every time he touched the ball the crowd roared.

“I wish our footballers were capable enough to test him. But still we got to see him in action, which will be a memorable moment of my life,” said a fan.

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