Brazilian star takes AC Milan charity to Calcutta

AC Milan and Brazil veteran, Leonardo de Araujo, is in Calcutta for the second time in two years. “I felt an instantaneous emotional connect with Calcutta when I came here accompanying the Milan U-17 squad (organised by the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) the last time. I’m glad to be back and soaking the warmth and positive energy of this historic city,” the former World Cup (1994) winner told Subhro Saha of The Telegraph. Leonardo, secretary-general of the AC Milan Foundation, is inaugurating a multi-functional sports centre at Udayan, the shelter for children of leprosy victims in Barrackpore. The Milan foundation has raised 2.5 million euros for 30 projects around the world, and this is its first venture in India.

Why Calcutta? “Of course, there is the (Dominique) Lapierre connection, but there’s much more to the city, not the least its passion for football,” he sid. Udayan is just the beginning of a lasting relationship between Leonardo and Calcutta, built around the beautiful game. “We will actively consider bringing the Milan Serie A side here.” But the Brazilian, who has made Milan his home and holds the key to the Italian giant’s boys from Brazil led by Kaka, feels it’s “logistically easier” to bring the Brazilian national squad to the city. “I’ll be chipping away at both, since Calcutta deserves a treat that titanic.”

Leonardo, who plays “every Thursday” in the foundation’s fund-raiser tournament with the likes of Baresi and Donadoni, promised to also steer a Milan old-boys’ club to the city.