Kolkata reception second biggest: Maradona

December 8th, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 8 (IANS) Overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on him by the city, soccer star Diego Maradona has termed the felicitation at the Salt Lake stadium as the second biggest reception he has ever received. “I never knew people have so much love for me. After the reception I got in Napoli (the club he represented at the Italian Series from 1984-1991), this is the second biggest reception in my entire life,” Maradona said in an interview to a private television channel Kolkata TV, the electronic media partner for his two-day visit to the city.

During the felicitation, attended by over 80,000 frenzied soccer fans, Maradona also watched an exhibition game where leading players of Kolkata clubs took part. And he felt that many things need to be improved.

“There are many many things which need to be improved. Its like a diamond without shine,” said the Argentinian, adjudged FIFA’s best player of the 20th century jointly with Brazilian great Pele.

Maradona reiterated his willingness to guide and develop Indian football provided he was given a specific project.

“It will be a very good thing to coach them, train them, and give advice to them. Tactically, mentally in many ways I can help the players through my experience,” he said.

Asked whether he was open to helping out the budding youngsters at the Indian Football School, the foundation stone of which he laid Saturday, Maradona said: “We have drawn a very serious project for these kids, give them the infrastructure. If there is a serious project then I am willing to help in taking Indian football to the next level”.

Attacking Pele, with whom he has never been on good terms, Maradona said the Brazilian did not have the respect of all players, which he had.

“The biggest and main difference between Pele and Maradona is I have the respect of all football players, which Pele does not have. Pele is a friend of those who manages football. I am not friends with them. I am with the players,” he said.

Describing his idol and former Cuban president Fidel Castro as a bright man, Maradona said: “You get enriched every moment you spent with him, even when you say hello”.

Maradona recalled his long meetings with Castro that stretched to five to six hours. “We talked about football, politics, baseball. We talked of the US as well. We talked about the dark sides of imperialism”.

Maradona regretted terrorist strikes in the world, saying they were awful.

“We have to stop this because there are many inncoent people, innocent kids, paying the price. They shouldn’t be paying the price,” he said.

On the poverty and food shortage in various parts of world, like Somalia, he said: “I can’t do much. But I keep asking god and the people to do something. Whenever I take the microphone, I ask people to help those who don’t have”.

Describing imperialism and its policies as the root cause of world economic problems, Maradona came down heavily on the US.

“The problems have been mainly created by the US. They say they are big, others small. They decide, and then we have to go by their decisions. But now, after what has happened to the US (economy), the time has come for every nation to take their own decisions”.

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