“Si yo fuera Maradona, viviria como él” (If I would be Maradona, I would live just like him) – “La Vida Tombola”, Manu Chao
There were many sports figures that shone once and disappeared, like a shooting star who existed just for a glimpse of a moment. There were those, who are now legends, and became such just after ending their sports careers or their mundane life too early. At last, there were those who became living legends, called genius from the first moment they entered the football pitch.
Who was Maradona?
As a young boy, he dreamt to play in the World Cup and to become a champion. In 1986 on FIFA World Cup in Mexico Maradona led Argentina to victory. Interestingly, not the final, but quarter-final against England did go down in history much stronger.
A Hand of God.
The famous quarter-final match happened at the time of the on-going Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Maradona scored two goals, however, the first was controversial. As the replays showed, the goal was scored by his left hand. And as Maradona described it himself: “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”. This is how the legend was created. The second goal from the same game, barely four minutes after the one scored by the divine hand, was named later “The goal of the century”.
Sex Pistol of football.
Called by this nickname by Emir Kusturica, who created a movie about Maradona. Being also called „El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Boy), El Diez (The No.10), El Pelusa (The Fuzz), or El Barrilete Cosmico (The Cosmis Kite).
As they say, Maradona was never wrong, even if he was. “If I were Maradona, I could never be blamed for any wrong” as Manu Chao sings in“La Vida Tombola”. He was a god and for gods, all is forgiven. He always spoke what he felt. He could criticize the politics and politicians, the Americans, the British and he could sing “Quiero Cuba!” and show his admiration for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. “While everyone is defending the USA, I defend Cuba” – he said. He wouldn’t care if people like what he says or not. Kusturica said in his documentary about Maradona, that if he wouldn’t become a footballer, he would become revolutionary.
Compared to legends such as Pelé. Considered one of the greatest players of all time of football. Having a status of God in Argentina, and not only. What is interesting, that there exists the Maradonian Church or Iglesia Maradoniana. Worship doesn’t have limits. D10S – Dios – God.
And as every human being does – rise and fall, and rise again. He was a drug addict. He was thinking himself of what kind of player he would be if it wasn’t cocaine, that he would be a greater version of himself. His wife, Claudia, was his guardian angel, although after many years they divorced. Diego got through all those years thanks to his family, and as he did deeply regret he missed a lot of moments from the growing of his two daughters. “La vida es una tómbola, de noche y de día” (Life is a raffle, by night and by day), Manu Chao.
What is going to be your best memory of Maradona? I can’t think of the best, it is way too hard to choose. But I thought of the last memory of El Diez, that I have. Four years ago I was watching the final of the Davis Cup in tennis that was held in Zagreb. Argentina won with Croatia to claim the title for the first time in History. Maradona was among the audience jumping with joy. Of course, that all the cameras were showing football legend, cheering, and getting crazy. Football, tennis, two worlds in one place. That moment was something else for Argentina, who loves football and worships Maradona. It was the moment when tennis was in the spotlight and Maradona paid tribute to the tennis players. He highlighted the role of Juan Martin Del Potro, who was the leader of the Argentinian team. “For Argentinian people, Maradona is like another God” – said Del Potro.
The day when Argentina won the Davis Cup title, Maradona said that it was Del Potro who won the hearts of Argentinians. God kneeled in front of the new god. I will keep this memory, of two different sports worlds coming together. The memory of Maradona celebrating the victory of Argentina on the tennis court. Also, the memory of little Maradona (165) happily practicing tennis with Juan Martin Del Potro, being called the tower of Tandil (198).
Important note: This article is mentioning the documentary about Maradona by Emir Kusturica. This mention does not represent in any way an endorsement of any historical and political views or any other actions undertaken by Emir Kusturica, besides this single documentary.
“Maradona” (2008), documentary movie by Emir Kusturica