Kolkata : Wildly cheered by hundreds of soccer fans, Uruguayan star footballer Diego Forlan – the golden ball winner in the recently held World Cup – arrived in the city Friday on a three-day tour to take part in a soccer reality show organised by a private channel.
Forlan, who played a stellar role in carrying two-time World Cup champions Uruguay to their first World Cup semi-final in four decades, touched down at the NSC Bose International Airport in the morning to the cheers of soccer aficionados, who patiently waited for hours for a glimpse of the Athletico Madrid player.
The Uruguayan sensation, sporting a white collarless t-shirt seemed tired after a 28 hour-long journey from Montevideo via Sao Paulo, Johannesburg and Dubai.
Amid tight security, he was driven straight to the hotel, where he is scheduled to relax for the rest of the day to overcome jet lag.
The 31-year-old Forlan, who struck five goals in the South Africa World Cup, would take part in a soccer talent hunt show to be aired by the Mahuaa Bangla channel.
While Kolkata has hosted legendary footballers like Pele, Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Gerd Muller, Romario and Branco in the past, all of them had visited the city long after their retirement.
Brazilian star Zico had come as the coach of Japan’s national side for a pre-World Cup game, while Cameroon’s Roger Milla – adjudged the best African player of the last century – played an exhibition match months after his sparkling performance at the 1990 World Cup.
Even taking into account these VVIP players’ visits, Forlan tryst with the city stands in a league of its own.
This is the first time a soccer star is visiting the city only weeks after being selected as the best player in the FIFA World Cup.
Channel sources said Forlan would shoot for the talent hunt show Saturday and efforts are on to squeeze in some more programmes including a media interaction.
Forlan would also be present during an exhibition match between the selected eleven players from a talent hunt show and Mohun Bagan XI.
Mohun Bahgan sources said the club would be fielding a junior side for the game slated to be played at the Salt Lake stadium.
Forlan would be leaving the city in the wee hours Monday.