Diego Maradona, the god of soccer
The best football player ever, real legend in Argentina, is still a subject of controversy.
Maradona will have a grandson, Maradona in a charity evening, Maradona sings in aid of a hospital, a stadium will be named after Diego Maradona, Maradona plays a game with Bolivian President Evo Morales, etc. Although he left soccer pitches in 1997, he appears on the newspapers almost every week. The best soccer player of all the times (a honorable position he disputes with Brazilian Pelé) still enjoys his fame.
Whatever he does, there is no doubt that the legend always makes people talk and he always calls the attention of the cameras. Besides, Maradona has always nourished the scandal sessions of the TV programs and has expressed his political opinions.
El Pibe de Oro
Diego Armando Maradona was born in October 1960 in a shanty neighborhood of Lanús, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. As the other boys, he played soccer in a small piece of land and when he was only 10, he was seen by a children recruiter who enabled him to be part of a children’s soccer team. He has always been small but talented, so much that he called the attention of the media when he was only 12: “I have two dreams: to play in a world cup and win it.”
The young boy started at the age of 16 playing for Argentinos Juniors, in La Paternal neighborhood (the stadium was named after him) in the Argentine capital city. The quantity of goals he scored made the team get out of the bottom of the position board. The next year, the “Golden Boy” was part of the national soccer team and Boca Juniors, in 1981. He made the team win the local championship and the key game against their ever rival: River Plate.
The first controversial event happened in 1982 World Cup after assaulting a Brazilian player, the result was the expulsion of Argentina. That same year, FC Barcelona hired him for a fortune. His busy night life started causing trouble and he took up cocaine. In 1984, he was part of SSC Napoli: he impersonated the revenge of the poor Southern Italy against the rich Northern Italy and took the team to unthought-of positions.
In 1986, he was the captain of the Argentine national soccer team in the World Cup. His age: 25. An anthology cup: in the semifinal against England, he scored a goal using his hand and declared:”I didn’t touch the ball, it was the hand of God”, that second would be one of the most beautiful moments of soccer (chosen as the “goal of the century” by FIFA).
In the final game against Germany he scored a decisive goal and made a dream come true: his country had won a world cup. It was him who got the Golden Ball of that Cup. In 1990 World Cup he was number ten again and managed to take his team to the final game against Germany.
The decline started in 1991: he was suspended for drug-consuming, he played for FC Sevilla and came back to Argentina in 1993, first he played for Newell’s Old Boy from Rosario, then for Boca Juniors. Once again he was selected for the national team in the 1994 World Cup but was soon expelled for a positive anti-doping control test. In 1997 he decided to retire on the day of his 37th birthday. Anyway he is remembered as an unforgettable player, as an extraordinary left-legged goal-scorer, and as being very stylish and creative as long as he doesn’t go beyond his own limitations.
Drugs: he himself declared that he had started taking cocaine when he was in Barcelona. In 1991 the anti-doping control test carried out in Italy was positive and he was suspended for fifteen months. Cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, bulimia and any other kind of excesses that led Maradona to the edge of the death. His heart strokes increased. He could be seen at the games very fat (he weighed more than 120kg and was 1,66 meter high), unrecognizable, changing.
In 2004, after a very serious alert he had a gastric ring put and traveled to Cuba to see his friend Fidel Castro, where he tried a detoxification cure. Relapses, alcoholism, a new hospitalization in 2007 and a hepatitis diagnosis. Maradona was transferred to a psychiatric hospital, hundreds of fans mounted guards at the doors of the clinic as there were rumors of his death. In 2008, the legendary player seemed to have found balance and a slim body. “Could you imagine what the hell of a player I would have been if I hadn’t consumed cocaine?” (in Maradona by Kusturica).
Violence: Maradona was suspended several times for his fights in the pitch and he even received a two-year imprisonment sentence with right of parole for having attacked some photographers with a carbine.
Children: Maradona has two daughters with his ex-wife Claudia Villafañe: Dalma and Giannina. And two paternity petitions: one in Italy and one in Argentina. In both cases, the courts decided for the mothers but Maradona refused to recognize the children.
Maradona declared he was in favor of the Latin American left-wing and extreme left-wing. He had the face of Che Guevara tattooed on his shoulder and went to Cuba to be cured. He has worn a “Stop Bush” t-shirt and usually expresses his vision of the world. He supported Venezuelan Hugo Chávez and Bolivian Evo Morales against the US President. He is a hero for the poor and oppressed classes. As regards the domestic politics, he was a close friend of former president Carlos Menem and in 2007, he supported the candidacy of Cristina Kirchner.
The "star system"
Despite having abandoned his soccer shoes, Maradona has not disappeared from the television screen. Between hospitalizations and detoxication cures, he was a sports commentator, host of a TV program called La Noche del 10 (The Night of the 10), and featured some publicities. He also published his autobiography: Yo soy el Diego (I am the Diego) and he has been frequently invited to television sets.
At 2008 Cannes Festival, Emir Kusturica presented his documentary: Maradona. In 2006, another biographical movie was produced by Marco Risi: “Maradona, la mano di Dio“. The well-known popular singer Rodrigo dedicated a song to him: La mano de Dios (The hand of God), and other famous singers also did the same: Fito Páez (Y Dale alegría a mi corazón), Andrés Calamaro (Maradona), Charly García (Maradona Blues) and even La Mano Negra (Santa Maradona).
The admiration for the player got to the point of worship. There is even a “Maradonian” church where followers of the soccer religious gather and their God is obviously Maradona! They have commandments, prayers and two festivities: Maradonian Easter on June 22 (commemorating the day on which he scored the goal of the century and the “hand of God”) and Christmas on October 30 (on the day of his birthday)…