Monday , 18 January 2021

Saying goodbye to Diego Maradona, the Son of Naples

“Beyond everything else, no ball ever had a better experience than when it was at his left foot,” was the words of former Real Madrid and Argentina forward Jorge Valdano describing a man called Diego Maradona.

Anyone who had the privilege of watching ‘El Pibe de Oro’ play during his prime would not disagree with those words, one bit.  

The man
from the capital of Lanús Partido became a household name, not just in
Argentina or South America but across the world in the 1980s when he
single-handedly won more than what thousands of players achieved throughout
their entire careers.

Many believe his name was bigger than the game itself during his prime.

On November 25, 2020, football lost its original ‘little magician’, leaving millions in absolute disbelief. Maradona’s career on the pitch was a journey of highs interspersed with some lows, including a disastrous 1994 FIFA World Cup campaign for the national team where he tested positive for doping and was subsequently banned from the game.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ FIFA

If that had happened to any other athlete, their top-flight career conclusion would have been disastrous but not for Diego. He was loved and cheered till the very end.

But why was
Maradona so adored, despite having troubles off the field? The answer
potentially lies in his passion and love for the game, which was evident for
everyone to see.

Anyone who
has followed Maradona can talk endlessly about how his passion for the game, in
spite of achieving so much and losing so much, was second to none.

Despite his
deteriorating health, the former Barcelona striker was seen cheering for his
boyhood club Boca Juniors in the stands, just like a 15-year-old: the same
passion, the same excitement and the same emotions.

Maradona’s brilliance on the field is unquestionable. But how he understood the game by keeping it simple throughout his life was something that made people fall in love with him even more.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ FIFA

He played
not only to win but to conquer the hearts of the people watching him live in
the stands and millions all over the world.

It was his
ability to turn up when the chips were down that gave hope to millions watching
the game and told them that nothing is out of reach.

When things
looked impossible, he put his hand up—at times quite literally—and took his
team to highs it probably couldn’t have otherwise achieved.

winning a remarkable World Cup for Argentina in 1986—a tournament many believe
was the most competitive edition in the history of football—to winning two
Serie A titles for Napoli—their only till date—Maradona achieve something
Julian Cesar would have been proud of, turning a team of absolute mediocre
players into deserving champions.

Many still argue that his performances in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons for Gli Azzurri were the best ever, which in turn gave him the title of ‘the Son of Naples’.

And he was
the same off the field as he was on. Honest, brutal, a winner, something that
left many in awe but made others question him.

But Diego
was Diego. He couldn’t care a bit about what people said. He did what he
believed in and he did it with conviction. 

In all,
Maradona was a blockbuster package. He was a star too bright to fade, a
footballer too good to fail and a genius adored by everyone.

It is time
to say goodbye and goodbyes are always hard but Diego’s farewell will be
harder. It will be the end of a book, not just a chapter.

Diego. Thank you for making us fall in love with the beautiful game. The
football world will always be in your debt.

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