There are many spectacular images and videos of Diego Armando Maradona, but my abiding one was that run from the centre circle against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. In that 15-second reel, he showed all his greatness. Maradona lived on the edge all his life but his death on Wednesday was totally unexpected.
He was said to be getting better after having surgery for a blood clot in his brain, but he succumbed to a heart attack just one week after being released from hospital to recover at home. Many compare him to Pele and compatriot, Lionel Messi, but for pure footballing talent, Maradona will always be No.1.
He played in a period when football was a hard sport, but he won many duels because he fought to show off how supremely gifted he was. His major triumph will always be the 1986 FIFA World Cup, where he shone so brightly that many cannot remember or will struggle to name five of his Argentina teammates.
Fucking hell, what a shit year 2020 has been…..💔
Adiós, Football. Muchas gracias señor 10. Por siempre Diego Armando Maradona🇦🇷🖤
— ThiagoSZN (@6ThiagoSZN) November 25, 2020
Brash and loud, Maradona was especially humble at that World Cup, which became his calling card. He stayed centred, focused and driven. His two goals against England were genius. His explanation for the ‘hand of God’ goal was also genius. Just like the late Mohamed Ali, Maradona had the gift of the lip.
His 1986 World Cup teammate Jorge Valdano said of his captain, “Maradona was a technical leader: a guy who resolved all difficulties that may come up on the pitch. Firstly, he was in charge of making the miracles happen.”
On the pitch, Maradona was ethereal, but off the field, he fought demons he never could quite dribble away from. From cocaine to alcohol, Maradona was bedevilled by vices that sent him to the ER on more than one occasion.
He played the game on his own terms and never allowed himself to be caged, but one thing was truly apparent, especially throughout his 20-year football career, he was a pure talent, sent to thrill and dumbfound human beings. Many will remember him like a god in Argentina and in Naples, and among some of us who witnessed his exploits on the pitch.
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