Diego Maradona, regarded by many as one of the greatest footballers of all time, passed away on Wednesday 25th November at his home in Tigre, near Buenos Aires. He was, and remains, widely adored for both his world class ability on the football pitch and his outrageous flamboyance off of it. The unanimous adoration for Maradona is so much so that three days of mourning have proceeded in Argentina following his death.
He was an unstoppable sensation for Argentina and, most notably in his club career, with Napoli; his game combined precision dribbling, skill, vision and aggression. In Argentina he was dubbed ‘El Pibe de Oro’ (The Golden Boy) and he also became a cult figure in Naples with the city’s mayor, Luigi de Magistris, since proposing that Napoli’s stadium be renamed in honour of Maradona. Such was his cult status in the city that many Italian Napoli fans even considered supporting Maradona’s Argentina when they were matched up with Italy in the 1986 World Cup. One banner at the game reading ‘Diego in our hearts, Italy in our songs’.
At the same World Cup, Maradona was involved in a record 10 goals (five goals and five assists.) Yet, it is not the number of goals that are spoke of when Maradona’s name is mentioned but rather the immense skill and flair that he possessed which provided joyous entertainment to a whole generation of football fans.
He was a rock’n’roll footballer, which meant he of course had his flaws. He infamously cheated, using his hand to score against England in the 1986 World Cup. Yet, in the same game he ran with the ball from the half way line, gliding past 4 England players who he left in a trail behind him, before taking the ball past Peter Shilton and putting it into the back of the net in what is considered one of the greatest goals of all time. These two very different goals encapsulate the duplicitousness of Maradona’s genius; cunning, deceit and an unrelenting desire to win mixing with sensational talent, flair, and skill.
Without his flaws, Maradona would not have been the same football player or man that he was. The football player that inspired awe from those who had the pleasure of witnessing him grace a football pitch and the man that aroused adoration of messianic proportions from Argentinian’s, Neapolitan’s, and many more from across the world. The death of Diego Armando Maradona therefore marks a sad day for both football and the world.
Image Credit: Channel 4