Maradona auctions off tie, gear for soccer academy

December 8th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 8 (IANS) Wrapping up his maiden visit to India on a high, football legend Diego Maradona took off his tie and put it under the hammer to raise money for a soccer academy at a charity dinner here.The dinner Sunday night at a five-star hotel fetched more than Rs 1.7 million through auction of Maradona’s sporting gear, and the money would be utilised for setting up the Indian Football School in Maheshtala, 13 km south of the city, tour organiser Celebrity Management Group Executive Director Bhaswar Goswami told IANS.

The soccer legend unveiled the foundation stone for the football school Saturday on the first stopover during his two-day trip to the city.

The dinner, attended by industrialists and the glitterati, was closed to the media, except the partners of the trip.

A photograph of the soccer great with his personal emblem got a winning bid price of Rs.80,000, while a jersey he wore during his playing days went under the gong for Rs.110,00.

The items put up for auction included five jerseys, four footballs, besides two photographs.

Maradona stole the show with his characteristic spontaneity as he poured his heart out to make the auction a success.

The ‘god of soccer’ was bubbling with enthusiasm as he let himself be enthusiastically photographed with each of the winners, signed every item and goaded the bidders to raise the bid amounts.

A Boca Juniors number 10 jersey went for Rs.80,000, and when the winner Dhananjay Singh returned to the podium to collect his second catch - a photograph of the super star for Rs.200,000 - Maradona seemed exuberant.

“Oh! My friend! Oh! My friend!” Maradona exclaimed, as he embraced Dhananjay. It was one of the handful of moments during the tour that he uttered words in English.

Maradona’s expressive love for his girlfriend Veronica, present at the programme, was for all to see.

It was a proud moment for Mou Roychodhury, the only successful woman bidder, when she won the rights for a jersey worn by Maradona during his days with F C Barcelona.

One of her young family members gave flowers to Maradona, who went up to Veronica, planted a kiss on her lips, and handed over the flowers to her.

When the last of the footballs was being auctioned off, Maradona took off his tie, and put it on the auction table. His agent let it be known that the tie would go to the winner if the bid amount surpassed all others quoted during the night. The bid started from Rs.250,000, and went up to Rs.500,000. Sumit Dabriwal was the winner.

Maradona was all smiles, as he first shook hands and then gave a bear hug to Dabriwal.

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