From the Viewsroom

Holding the hand of God

B Baskar | Updated on November 26, 2020 Published on November 26, 2020

There will not be another footballer like Diego Maradona

The footballer whose hand even God chose to hold finally got to meet the Almighty face-to-face on Wednesday. The term flawed genius was invented for the likes of Diego Maradona. After a lifelong battle with drug addiction and various health issues, Maradona’s journey comes to an end.

And the journey was nothing less than a fairy tale starting from the poverty-ridden ‘barrios’ of Buenos Aires reaching to the very pinnacle of footballing glory. So immense was Maradona’s belief in his talent and ability that he was crushed when the then Argentine manager Cesar Menotti left him out of the Argentine team for the 1978 World Cup. And this was before he even turned 18.

Though Maradona was destined for greatness, success did not come easily to him with his early years marked by a forgettable World Cup debut in 1982 and a painful two-year spell at FC Barcelona. It was his surprise move to SSC Napoli in 1984, where he blossomed as a footballer, delivering two Serie A league titles and a UEFA Cup. Tragically, the seeds of his self destruction were also sown during those glorious years in Naples.

It was in the 1986 Mexico World Cup, where Maradona single handedly led a rather average Argentine side to glory, did the world get a glimpse of this incredible footballing talent. The famous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England was punctuated by some sheer moments of magic — the second goal in that match and the one against Belgium in the semis. Only Maradona could have given a religious hue to a most blatant act of cheating (’Hand of God’) and be revered for it. Though he did not score in the finals, it was his decisive pass that led to Argentina’s winning goal by Jorge Burruchaga against West Germany.

The 1990 World Cup saw a testy, surly and even cynical Maradona, where his team lost in the finals. His descent, in the 1990s, marred by growing drug addiction, paternity suits and tax wrangles, was swift and even cruel. Maradona was an unabashed show-boat who loved all the adulation that came his way. Fans will always remember his incredible skills that he often displayed at pre-match warm-up stints.

Thanks for the memories, Diego.

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Published on November 26, 2020
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