Sporting his contagious playful smile, Ronaldinho, known as the ‘Samba Magician,’ captivated the football-loving people of Kolkata during his two-day visit, marking the early beginning of the Durga Puja festivities. The grandest festival in the region, Durga Puja typically begins on the sixth day (Shasthi) following Mahalaya, but this time it kicked off early on the second day, with the ’Gaucho’ inaugurating a series of pandals.
Amidst Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to inaugurate a Durga Puja pandal, the spotlight was firmly on the Brazilian legend.
The crowd reverberated with chants of ‘Ronaldinho, Ronaldinho’ and ‘Brazil, Brazil’ wherever he made an appearance, drawing hundreds of enthusiastic fans eager to catch a glimpse of the former Barcelona and AC Milan star.
Ronaldinho opted for a relaxed look, donning casual shorts, a loosely-fitted navy blue T-shirt, and completing his attire with his iconic snapback cap.
Arriving on Sunday, the 43-year-old Brazilian icon swiftly overcame jetlag and kicked off his day by inaugurating his academy, “R10,” located at the Merlin Rise residential complex in the eastern suburbs.
The academy drew a multitude of young fans from various age groups, eager to catch a glimpse of their beloved Brazilian superstar. Ronaldinho, renowned for his extraordinary dribbling skills, precise ball control, and creative prowess showcased during Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory, became the center of attention.
A large screen displayed Ronaldinho’s mesmerizing football moments, including his unforgettable long-range free-kick that significantly impacted England’s fate during the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals.
Ronaldinho made his way to northern Kolkata, where he officially opened a Durga Puja pandal inspired by a Disneyland theme. Embracing the traditional Hindu hospitality, he received a tilak on his forehead and displayed genuine curiosity, immersing himself in the pandal’s design and asking questions about the rituals.