Football star Lionel Messi has gifted a Barcelona jersey with ‘Didi’ and number 10 imprinted on it to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for successfully hosting the Under-17 football World Cup in Kolkata last year. The gift also had a message: “Best wishes for my friend Didi from Lionel Messi.”
The jersey was handed over by Barcelona players Juliano Beletti and Jari Litmanen to Football Next Foundation, organisers of a friendly match held between Barcelona and Kolkata club Mohun Bagan in Yuba Bharati Krirangan, which was the site of the U-17 finals.
“They couldn’t hand over the jersey personally to Mamata Banerjee so they gave it to us. We have approached the Chief Minister’s Office. Whenever she agrees to meet us, we will hand over the jersey to her,” Football Next Foundation founder Kaushik Moulik said.
The Barcelona number 10 jersey holds significance as football legends Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Romario have worn the number 10 jersey of the Spanish football club.
Messi is no stranger to Kolkata as he had played a friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata in 2011. The Argentine national football team captain has a huge fan base in Kolkata which is known for die-hard supporters of Argentina and Brazil.