Mumbai bewitched by Zinedine Zidane as Kanakia Paris' wellness ambassador makes his maiden India visit
Zinedine Zidane graced Mumbai with his presence and enthralled his fans on the 10th of June. The football legend was in the financial capital of the country as the Wellness Ambassador of the Paris project of real estate giants Kanakia Group.
Since stepping foot in the city a day before, Zizou, as he is fondly called, was greeted warmly by the excited fans, who had descended to Mumbai from all across the country.
Zizou's day started with a visit to Kanakia's elegant offices in the bustling area of Andheri. The Frenchman met the Chairman Mr. Rasesh Kanakia along with the Managing Director Mr. Himanshu Kanakia and Director, Mr. Ashish Kanakia at the office.
“Very few athletes represent sporting excellence like Zinedine Zidane. World cup victor, UEFA Champions League-winning manager, and widely regarded as among the greatest players to ever take the field, Zidane is a living legend in the world of sports. Not only is he a global icon but also among the most recognizable and relevant symbols of France to sports fans in India. Who better, then, to inspire a wellness concept for the residents of Kanakia Paris?” - Mr. Himanshu Kanakia on why they zeroed in on Zidane
From there, the 43-year-old went on to lay the foundation stone at the site of Kanakia Paris at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. Zizou fans thronged to the event and the legendary footballer obliged them by patiently posing for photos, signing memorabilia and shaking hands. In his honour, a human foosball match was also organized where kids took part and the winning team got a picture clicked with Zidane.
It was the middle of the day by this time as Zizou made his way to attend a press conference to reaffirm his commitment to the cause. A plethora of journalists had gathered at the Dome at the NSCI to witness the legend talk about his career and the reason why he is in India.
“I’m extremely happy to be partnering with Kanakia Spaces for the opening of the first and so far only Z Wellness Center. Having worked with Kanakia as their wellness ambassador I’ve come to realize the emphasis they place on wellness as a concept in the design of their projects. They truly appreciate the importance of creating an environment for their residents in which they can stay fit, healthy and rejuvenate their mind and spirit, all amid the bustle of a thriving metropolis like Mumbai. I am proud to lend my name to such a concept.” - Zinedine Zidane
A lucky few were taken for a round-table conference with the Real Madrid manager, who was dressed smartly in a blue-grey Nehru jacket. In a conversation, which lasted over half an hour, the 3-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner deftly dodged questions, the same way he went past defenders during his playing days while giving each journalist a patient ear. He talked on a myriad of subjects, from his spectacular goal in the 2002 Champions League final to winning the same tournament as a manager recently. He gave his prediction for the Euro while he also talked about the current Real Madrid team and transfer speculation.
Once he had satiated the journalists' appetite, Zizou went out to witness a 5-a-side football match played between two teams led by the former and current Indian captains - Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri. The star-studded teams, full of Indian internationals, put on a grand display for the watching Zidane.
At Chhetri's behest, the Frenchman, in a rather unexpected move, took to the field at half-time to give the fans a unique chance to witness the great in action. Zizou took 3 penalties, and of course, in true Zidane style, converted them all as the over-3000 crowd gathered cheered each one of them.
The picturesque Marine Drive saw the sun set as the event came to a close to the dismay of the fans, who would have given anything to witness the French great for even a second longer. Unfortunately for them, even legends like Zizou have to call it a day and the gleeful fans exited the stadium with memories that they are not likely to forget for years, if not eons.