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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Messi-loving Indian football fan paints house in Argentina colours ahead of 2018 World Cup

Kolkata resident Shib Shankar Patra, who sells tea, wanted to travel to Russia to see his heroes in person but ran short of money

Shib Shankar Patra, second from right, serves tea to fans and customers in front of his apartment painted in blue-and-white. AFP
Shib Shankar Patra, second from right, serves tea to fans and customers in front of his apartment painted in blue-and-white. AFP

A die-hard Argentina fan in India has painted his house in the team's blue and white colours ahead of the football World Cup, saying his love for Lionel Messi's men knows no bounds.

Kolkata resident Shib Shankar Patra's passion for Argentina began during the 1986 World Cup when Diego Maradona helped the team win the coveted trophy.

"For me Messi is an extension of Maradona. Everyone in my family loves Messi. We love his behaviour, we love everything about him," Patra told AFP.

Patra, who sells tea, from a shop on the ground floor of his building wanted to travel to Russia to see his football heroes in person but ran short of money.

"I had saved 60,000 rupees [Dh3,264] but it was not enough for the trip. I will now watch Argentina's games on TV and cheer for my favourite footballers."

The family has also made elaborate plans for Messi's birthday which will fall during the World Cup on June 24.

Diego Maradona's efforts to lead Argentina to the World Cup win in 1986 marked one of the game's most memorable moments. Carlo Fumagalli / AP Photo
Diego Maradona's efforts to lead Argentina to the World Cup win in 1986 marked one of the game's most memorable moments. Carlo Fumagalli / AP Photo

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Read more on World Cup 2018:

Indian's captain Sunil Chhetri equals Lionel Messi's tally of 64 international goals

Lowdown: Guides, predictions, podcasts, galleries and where to watch in the UAE

Golden Boot: 10 contenders beyond likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Maradona, Parreira, Cannavaro - the World Cup winners with UAE connections

Quaresma, Berg, Tite, Cuper: Players and managers with UAE links in Russia

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"We will cut a cake and distribute T-shirts among kids with Messi's face embossed on them," said Patra, a father of two.

Patra has even decorated the walls of each room in his house with life-size posters of Messi.

Despite being the second most populous nation, 1.25-billion-strong India has long struggled in world football and is currently ranked 97 in Fifa's rankings.

But the country goes football crazy during the World Cup, particularly in the eastern metropolis of Kolkata, and the English Premiership is a major driver behind the growth of satellite TV.

Argentina launch their World Cup campaign against Iceland on Saturday in Moscow, with games to follow against Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.

"I will be praying everyday for Argentina's success. Nothing gives me more happiness than seeing them win on the field," Patra said.

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