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The Legend of Diego Armando Maradona

A boy from the slum became a gifted soccer player and idol of many. For many, Maradona became a role model and hero with this life story. The recently deceased superstar left behind a football legacy and many people in mourning.

Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanus, Argentina. He began his career as a professional footballer with the 1976 Argentinos Juniors and moved to the top club Boca Juniors in 1982. He became the top scorer in the Argentinean league, nominated for the national team at the age of 16 and South American Footballer of the Year at 19. In 1982 Maradona made the leap to Europe. For a record sum of money at the time, he transferred to FC Barcelona, where he only played 36 compulsory matches in two years due to injuries. Between 1984 and 1991 Maradona then played for SSC Naples, where he made his breakthrough. He scored 81 goals in 188 games and won the Italian championship and the UEFA Cup. After a brief stint with FC Sevilla, Diego Maradona returned to Argentina, where the legend himself was active for Boca Juniors until 1997. By then he had long since passed his performance quota.

Diego Maradona in the Argentine national team:

Maradona became not only a legend in the SSC Naples team but also played a total of 91 games for the Argentinean team and scored 34 goals. He took part in four World Cup finals. He played his best tournament at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he led his team to the title as team captain. In the semi-final against England, he scored two legendary goals: one by dribbling across the entire playing field, the other with the famous “Hand of God”. In 1990 Diego Maradona became vice world champion with Argentina. At his last World Cup in 1994, however, he made the headlines more with a doping scandal than with his performance on the field.

Maradona, a figure of controversy for pop-culture

While his soccer skills are undisputed, Maradona has been involved in several scandals in his private life, ranging from doping, drug abuse, obesity to shooting at journalists. Nevertheless, he enjoys almost godlike cult status, especially in Argentina. 

His edgy character probably also contributed to the myth of the legend. Maradona was a real man of contradictions and as a superstar a projection screen for many followers and their agenda. The touching story of the little boy from the slums of Argentina, who rises to become a soccer god and possibly the spokesman for the humiliated and offended, makes the football star immortal.

Thus, in an obituary in the leftist newspaper “The Nation”, he was described as a “comrade of the global South, a fighter against the powerful”. Maradona himself wore a tattoo of Che Guevara on his upper arm and campaigned for his friend the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

His performance in the 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final remains unforgotten, for example, when Maradona transformed the warm-up on the field into a dance dribbling performance and triggered an unbelievable enthusiasm. A scene that even pop culture experts will remember. He seemed to use the ball to defy gravity and didn’t even have to tie his shoelaces. The ball and Maradona became one.

After the end of his active career, Diego Maradona established himself as a coach and coached the Argentine national team in 2010. 

Reactions to the death of Maradona

Particularly in his home country Argentina the grief is enormous when world star only a few days ago. The soccer world mourns the loss of one of its greatest stars, for whom even opponents always paid the highest respect.

“You have led us to the top of the world. You have made us very happy,” Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández tweeted on the death of Diego Maradona, who in his home country they simply call “D10S”, referring to his back number – the Spanish “Dios” means “God”. “You were the greatest of all. Thanks for being there, Diego. We will miss you for the rest of our lives.” He ordered three days of national mourning, Maradona’s body will be laid out in the presidential palace. He is also to be given a state funeral. This shows the enormous importance for his home country.

This affection is also expressed in the reaction of his compatriot Pope Francis, who is himself a great soccer fan. The Pope was also informed of Maradona’s death and thinks in solidarity with the meetings of those years, said the Vatican. Francis remembered him in his prayers, as he had done in the past days since he had heard about Maradona’s health. Around his 60th birthday a month ago, Maradona had to undergo brain surgery, from which, it was said, he had recovered better than expected. 

“The memories of Diego have always cheered me up,” says Jorge Valdano, 1986 world champion alongside Maradona, before he is speechless. On Spanish television, it brings tears to the eyes of the now established media professional. It also tears Sergio Goycochea’s heart apart live on air. “A part of my life has passed away,” sobs Argentina’s goalkeeper at the 1990 World Cup.

Like the two former national players, dozens of ex-footballers and journalists have experienced the same fate live on TV. And hundreds of thousands of Argentinians on the streets of the country. This deep sadness and sympathy, which usually only close relatives feel when someone dies, overwhelmed people all over Argentina when Diego Armando Maradona died last Wednesday. This may be difficult for outsiders to understand, but it explains the myth of Maradona much better than just his goals and tricks.

The dramaturgy that characterized Maradona’s life culminated in his death. Three days of national mourning laid out in the presidential palace. But suddenly the family demands an abrupt end to this homage by the masses. Tumult follows fans storm the building, and while everyone pulls on Maradona for the last time, the mortician spreads selfies with the body. Seldom has death been so eccentric. 

Thank you Diego Armando Maradona, you will be missed.

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