Published: 14th June 2018
Football Fever: Messi fan from Bengal paints house in Argentina colours
53-year-old Shib Shankar Patra, a tea-stall owner in West Bengal’s 24 North Parganas district, saved the most from his earnings to make it to the FIFA World Cup being held in Russia
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi might have thousands of fans and followers, but a fan from West Bengal lives to realise the dream of watching the player on the field.
53-year-old Shib Shankar Patra, a tea-stall owner in West Bengal’s 24 North Parganas district, saved the most from his earnings to make it to the FIFA World Cup being held in Russia this year to watch Messi play. Such is his love for the football player that he has painted his three-storeyed house in the blue and white colours of Argentina.
“I don’t smoke or drink. I have only one addiction and that is Lionel Messi and Argentina. I don’t earn much but ensure that bulk of my earnings is kept aside for these indulgences when World Cup comes calling,” he said.
Patra’s dream of watching his idol play could not be realized when he got a budget of Rs 1.5 lakh for a World cup trip, whereas he only had savings of Rs 60,000. This does not deter the ardent fan, whose house has life-size posters of Messi and whose family watches the footballer’s matches together.
The fanaticism for Messi began for Patra when Doordarshan telecasted the 1986 World Cup, which is infamous for Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal. His family also celebrates Messi’s birthday every year on June 24 by cutting cakes, organising blood donation camps, distributing tea and snacks. This year, a 30-pound cake will be cut and 100 Argentina jerseys will be distributed, Patra said.
“He (the local temple priest) gets me the ‘sindoor’ from Hanuman’s left leg (Messi is a left-footed player) and the vermilion is applied on Messi’s poster during every match. We hope he lifts the Cup this time,” he said.
Kolkata has an avid following of football. Argentina played their first World Cup match against Iceland on Saturday in Russia’s Moscow.