From the moment human beings comprehend the pain of existence, they try to find temporary escapes from it as frequently as possible. And history is evident that any individual who managed to provide that momentary ecstasy to the masses, has become immortal. One such person was Diego Maradona.
Hence, if Diego Maradona’s untimely demise on November 25, 2020, was met with worldwide mourning, it is because he had the ability to make people forget about their misery with his unparalleled football skills.
Here are some of Diego Maradona’s best moments on the football pitch that have been etched in our memories forever.
STANDING OVATION AT SANTIAGO BERNABEU
While Diego Maradona’s stay at Barcelona was filled with controversy, which eventually led to his departure, the Argentine was also the player to gift Barcelona fans an unforgettable moment. Playing in the 1983 Copa de la Liga, a 22-year-old Maradona had scored one of the most iconic Barcelona goals ever. In a move that seemed more audacious than class, Maradona had dribbled past Real Madrid goalkeeper Agustín and instead of slotting the ball in the empty net, he waited for Spanish defender Juan José to arrive. Jose would crash into the goalpost in a desperate attempt to save Maradona’s tap-in as the Argentine would take the ball past the floored defender and tuck the ball home. He was given a standing ovation by Real Madrid fans upon substitution, something that was only repeated 22 years later when Ronaldinho had put up a world-class display in the same venue.
WINNING SCUDETTO WITH NAPOLI
“He represented unrepeatable dreams and hopes for the people of my city. Naples cries tonight,” said Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora after Maradona’s death. If there is one place where Maradona’s demise would be grieved as much as Argentina, it is Napoli. The southern Italian city was isolated both geographically and socio-economically from the nation’s soccer capitals of Milan and Turin. Napoli hadn’t won the Serie A for 61 years when they decided to buy Maradona. Maradona’s negative disciplinary record in Barcelona compounded with an “injury-prone” label, and other Serie A giants not looking to buy the untamable player, had further eased it for Napoli. Napoli’s Serie A and Coppa Italia winning squad of 1987 had only one non-Italian player, who would fetch them their first title in history.
Naples Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris says, “Yes, he was also a controversial man. But for us, Maradona is the one who made Naples and Neapolitans dream — with his genius, his uniqueness, he gave us happiness. Many have named their sons Diego, for he was able to redeem a city that was often the target of prejudices and discrimination,” reported Sports Illustrated.
THE MAKING OF GOD
You need an audience to immortalize yourself. And while Diego Maradona’s European shenanigans were unparalleled, it could only take him so far. He got his perfect stage during the 1986 FIFA World Cup when the matches were telecasted across the globe. Argentina were playing against England in the quarter-final and had managed a 1-0 lead following a controversial goal by Maradona, who had seemingly used his hand to direct the ball into the net while trying to head it. It was followed by prolonged player protests that had left the English fans disgruntled with the neutral TV viewers sympathizing with England as well. However, the moment that could have tainted Maradona’s legacy forever was followed by a goal that placed him in the pantheons of football gods. Four minutes after the “Hand of God”, Maradona would get the ball near the centre and embark on a historic run, dribbling past English defenders with envious ease before putting the ball behind an onrushing Peter Shilton. Argentina had won the match 2-1 and Maradona had become a demi-god in the eyes of the world.
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