Express News Service
KANNUR: On entering suite number 309 of Hotel Blue Nile, you feel an invisible presence of the ‘God of Football’ enveloping you. For the hotel, where Diego Maradona — who passed away in Buenos Aires on Wednesday — spent a couple of days eight years ago, has been turned into a museum. V Raveendran, the managing director of the hotel and an ardent Maradona fan, said that nothing has been changed or rearranged ever since the Argentine legend left the hotel.
He considers himself fortunate to have received a chance to host the football genius when he visited Kannur to attend a private function in October, 2012. “He was warm, friendly and down to earth. As he couldn’t speak English, his secretary, a lady, had acted as the translator for his Spanish.
But we could easily make out that he was delighted and excited to be in the midst of hardcore football fans,” Raveendran said. Maradona had stayed at the hotel on October 23 and 24. After he had left, the room was renamed Maradona Suite. The plates and towels he had used, the cigar stubs in the ashtray and even the soap tray have been left untouched.
‘We cherish precious memories
“After we renamed the room, many people from within India and abroad have visited the hotel, asking for this particular suite,” Raveendran said.“Many people believe it’s a privilege to be in a room used by the football legend.”
As the news of Maradona’s death trickled in, the room was occupied by a football fan from Syria. “All of us here cherish the precious memories associated with him,” the managing director said. The hotel staff had celebrated the eighth anniversary of Maradona’s visit by cutting a cake last month, he added. Raveendran is also planning to install a four-feet high statue of Maradona in front of the hotel.
“We will also provide opportunities to the people of Kannur to visit the suite,” he said.