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Emiliano Martinez

Sreebhumi welcomes Qatar World Cup hero Emiliano Martinez

FIFA World Cup 2022 Golden Glove winner visited Sreebhumi Sporting Club accompanied by club president and minister Sujit Bose and sports promoter Satadru Dutta

Aranyak Mojumder | Published 07.07.23, 10:21 AM
Emiliano Martinez greets fans in front of Diego Maradona’s statue at Sreebhumi on Wednesday

Emiliano Martinez greets fans in front of Diego Maradona’s statue at Sreebhumi on Wednesday

Pictures by Aranyak Mojumder

Sreebhumi played host to yet another Argentine soccer legend after Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi when Damian Emiliano Martinez Romero, popularly known as Emi “Dibu” Martinez, took the stage on Wednesday morning.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 Golden Glove winner visited Sreebhumi Sporting Club accompanied by club president and minister Sujit Bose and sports promoter Satadru Dutta.

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A crowd had started to gather from around 10am. Fans had come from all across the state — the Sundarbans, Tarakeshwar, Arambagh... “I have been an Argentina fan since childhood and I fell in love with Emi Martinez on seeing him in action in the successful Copa America campaign of 2021. This man, alongside Messi, has gifted Argentina the much deserved World Cup,” said Ayush Samui, unable to contain his excitement.

Biswajit Chakraborty, a resident of Kumortuli, had bunked office. “Office is there everyday, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see someone who has played alongside Messi,” said the Messi fan. “Someone who has shared the same dressing room with the current God of Football becomes an angel himself.”

While some had come to get jerseys and footballs signed, some had come with his portrait.

The visit started predictably at the base of the Maradona statue off VIP Road. After offering floral tribute to him, Martinez started for the club ground. Fans ran beside his car to get a glance of their favourite goalkeeper. Some took off their jerseys while running and threw them at him to get them signed.

At the ground, he was welcomed with a performance by Beat Busters which danced to songs like Shob khelar shera Bangalir tumi football and Magic in the air. The performance made him exclaim “Oshadharon (amazing)!”

Arfin Rana, a Zee Bangla Sa Re Ga Ma Pa second runner-up, sang a Spanish song in tribute to Martinez and handed the mic to Bose for the welcome speech which Bose delivered partly in Spanish.

“At Sreebhumi, we try to promote football. We have our own football training facilities for young men and women at the grassroots level, and we are sure that very soon our country, India, will secure a place in the World Cup,” Bose said. An audio-visual compilation of his wonderful saves and moments from Argentina’s successful World Cup campaign were played out on the giant screen.

Martinez was then handed World Cup and Golden Gloves replicas by Bose. On receiving the Golden Gloves, Martinez struck the same pose as he had done when he had received the prize in Qatar. The sight made the crowd go wild. He also got rasogolla and fruits and his portrait painted by local resident Subrata Gangopadhyay.

miliano Martinez being handed by a portrait by Sujit Bose and painter Subrata Gangopadhyay. (Right) Martinez addresses the crowd

miliano Martinez being handed by a portrait by Sujit Bose and painter Subrata Gangopadhyay. (Right) Martinez addresses the crowd

Martinez was then called up on the podium to speak. “Hola, Kolkata,” he started in Spanish to cheers all around. “It’s like a dream for me to have come to India and walk through these streets. When you walk, you realise how beautiful this country is.” He thanked the audience for having gathered for him and signed off by saying: “This isn’t over. I want to bring Messi here to play in India.”

The final of Pache 5, a penalty shootout tournament, took place next between Kalyani University and Seth Anandram Jaipuria College.

Kalyani University won and both teams were handed their trophies by Bose and Martinez.

Beat Busters perform to football songs at the Sreebhumi event on Wednesday

Beat Busters perform to football songs at the Sreebhumi event on Wednesday

Dibu under the bar

In a photo opportunity for the lensmen, Bose tried thrice to score against Martinez but failed.

The prize distribution, and the event, ended with the Argentine national anthem being played, followed by the Indian national anthem.

As he left, shopkeepers from Kesaria Pan Bhander, a small shop at the entrance to the club ground, came out to see who had caused so much chaos in the area. Sharwan Varma, who was looking after the shop with Manoj Gupta, said: “For the last three days, people have been working here. We have no idea who has come today. But whoever has come, must be someone big.”

“My children know him from TV and went to see him. They were all very excited,” Gupta added smiling.

Last updated on 07.07.23, 10:21 AM
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