Diego Maradona did not disappoint the hundreds of fans who had thronged the Municipal Stadium in Kannur today just to get a glimpse of their idol.
On ascending the specially-prepared stage at the stadium, Maradona energetically waved to the crowd and then kicked footballs in all four directions.
Maradona also exhibited the dribbling skills which made him famous around the world. He hugged Kerala's biggest soccer star IM Vijayan and shared a few headers with the latter.
Maradona next picked up the mike and said "Viva India" several times. He surprised the organisers by singing few lines of a Latin song. When the function's compere Ranjini Haridas urged him to dance with her, Maradona obliged by getting jiggy in his characteristic manner. He even planted a peck on her cheek.
After this, Maradona cut a 25-kg cake to celebrate his 52nd birthday that falls on Oct 30. The organisers had earlier convinced Maradona to accept their request for an early birthday celebration in Kannur.
To mark the occasion, a 5-feet-long and 3-feet-wide cake in the shape of a football field was baked. The cake had a football at its centre. Another cake resembled the trophy that was handed to Maradona when he led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup.
Yesterday, the soccer legend made his first ever appearance in Kerala. He landed at the Nedumbassery airport near here around 6 a.m and spent an hour in the VIP lounge before boarding a Kannur-bound helicopter.
As soon as the chopper touched down at the Defence Security Corps ground in Kannur, Maradona's fans went into a tizzy. Football lovers were seen lining both sides of the road leading to the Blue Nile Hotel where he was due to stay.
Today morning, he left the hotel and reached the stadium in a helicopter at the scheduled time. Though about 3000 police personnel were deployed in connection with his brief visit, the organisers did not want to take any chances and therefore arranged private security too for Maradona's protection.