West Bengal: A resident of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, who is a die-hard fan of Argentinean striker Lionel Messi has painted his house in the colour of Argentina’s flag.
The tea-seller, who is supporting the Lionel Messi led-side in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia, has painted his three-storey house in the team’s blue and white colours.
“My biggest wish is to see Messi play in real life,” said Shiv Shankar Patra.
Having grown up watching the Argentine great Diego Maradona, enchanting the world and opposing defenders, eventually captaining Argentina to their second World Cup triumph in 1986, Patra hopes Maradona’s heir apparent and his ‘god of football’ Lionel Messi can lead Argentina to glory and seal his place in the annals of football alongside Maradona and Pele.
“I am an Argentina supporter. I have been one from the beginning but ever since I saw Maradona play in ’86, my love became more profound,” Patra told the media.
However, his hopes of watching a World Cup live from the stands were dashed as his profession does not allow him the budget needed to travel to Russia.
“I had a budget of 50,000-60,000 and the agent told me I would need at least 1, 50,000 to go to Russia and watch two games. I have to run a family also, so I could not go to Russia,” Patra said.
Despite his financial shortcomings, his passion literally stands out from the rest and can be seen in the blue and white stripes of Argentina that cover the entirety of his three-storey house.
Even the interiors of his house have not been spared, with ‘albiceleste’ stripes and frames and posters of Messi and Maradona donning the walls.
Like any Argentina fan, Patra has endured extreme heartache watching his beloved team being on the wrong end of three major international finals- the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final against Germany and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America Finals, both against Chile. However, he was delighted when Messi took his side to the World Cup with a hattrick in the last qualifier game.
“I was heartbroken when Argentina conceded that goal (in the 2014 World Cup Final). Our ‘god of football’ Messi only took us to the World Cup with a hattrick in the last qualifier match. I was crying that day. He scores so many goals and I feel elated every time. I hope this time he will take us through, but it cannot be said. If the team plays well and makes it to the Final, then we’ll see,” Patra added.
Argentina begin their World Cup campaign against debutants Iceland on Saturday and along with Patra, millions of Argentina fans will look up to the ‘Messiah’ to take a leaf out of Maradona’s book and lead his side to eternal glory.