On Wednesday evening the world was brought the news that Diego Maradona, arguably one of the greatest footballers to ever have played, had died aged 60.
Diego Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest men to have ever kicked a football, idolised by hundreds of millions worldwide. When you think football, you would not be mistaken to have the image of the small curly haired Argentinian, dance around opposition players like he was at a Russian ballet company. He could never be considered just an amazing footballer, he was a performer, a revolutionary, an artist and one of the few men in history that could certainly hold a God like status. It would not be a harsh statement to believe that the only two people that could even rival Diego’s presence within his nation of Argentina would be Pope Francis and God himself. I would like anyone to show me an omnipotent God that would manage to brush a whole tough English team off his shoulder from his own half, rounding the goalkeeper and scoring arguably the greatest goal in history. Just after scoring the most controversial goal in football, whilst making Peter Shilton look like a donut in a World Cup Quarter Final in front of over 100,000 people.
Maradona’s legacy in football is unparalleled, he is responsible for the transition into modern day football and the way millions of fans now watch the game. The way he carried the ball, and the confidence he had with it had never been seen on a football pitch before. A swagger that would strike fear into the hearts of any opposition player. In my opinion, Diego was the first man that made this game look fun and everyone that has attempted to make the game entertaining owes credit to him. Diego was also the first footballer that was well and truly thrown into the public eye, when it came to his life off the pitch. Being that adored and recognisable across the world, would always have some sort of impact on a way someone behaved. Especially for a man that came from such humble beginnings as Diego, brought up in a small shanty town outside the beautiful Argentinian capital that is Buenos Ares. Creating a true underdog story. It was no secret that Diego found himself involved with some things that a man of his credibility should avoid being around, sometimes resulting him from suspensions from football when his actions would go too far. It was what made him such a curious character, to be able to be so wild off the pitch but so elegant and efficient whilst running on green grass was truly spectacular. His lifestyle would always end up catching up on Diego, but I’m sure he knew that himself. All Diego wanted was to have fun and play some football.
It was his time at Napoli, after a controversial move from Catalan giants Barcelona that would truly define the number 10’s club career. Naples, a city with a difficult reputation of crime and violence, was not ready for this one man to bring this southern city that was constantly hard done by the north on the front cover of the footballing world. This would be first seen at the end of the 1986/87 season, when a Napoli side captained by Diego would win their first ever Serie A title. Creating history in Italian football. From then on, Diego was catapulted into God like status in Naples and celebrated another title, alongside two Italian cups and a UEFA Cup.
With his nation of birth Argentina, which he was unbelievably patriotic about, success would eventually arrive at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The tournament which witnessed sheer magic from Maradona, earned him the golden ball as well still be the only Argentinian captain to lead his football mad nation to World Cup success. He was so close to being a two-time winning Argentine captain, at the Italian 1990 World cup but unfortunately could not undo the fierce West German team.
As the footballing world now prepares itself for life without Diego Maradona, it will be a time now to reflect on the utterly amazing impact this little man had on the world and just how inspiring his ability was. With the likes of Messi and Ronaldo that have also created so much magic in football, I believe even the biggest fans of these two wonderful football players can admit, that no matter how many goals or trophies they earn, they will never be quite like Diego Maradona.