Thousands of people thronged the airport in the southern Indian city of Cochi on Tuesday to welcome retired Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona.

Authorities ordered 2,000 police deployed in anticipation of the crowds that would go to meet him.

The iconic athlete, who previously visited India in 2008, waved to the crowds upon his arrival at the festive gathering.

"I've waited since 4 o'clock this morning to see's a dream come true," a young fan from Cochi told the Indian news agency IANS.

Maradona, who is staying two days in the Indian state of Kerala, plans to take part this Wednesday in the inauguration of a new showroom of Boby International Jewellers, an Indian company that recently signed the Argentine as its brand ambassador.

Kerala is one of the regions of India where soccer is most popular, though cricket is the by far the favorite sport in this country.

Maradona is best remembered internationally for leading the Argentine national team to victory in the 1986 World Cup. EFE