Football fans around the world gathered in mourning on Wednesday as news broke of the tragic passing of Diego Armando Maradona, one of the greatest and most entertaining players to ever play the sport.
Nicknamed ‘Dios’ (Spanish for God) in his homeland of Argentina, Maradona played football with a joy that was never seen again after he retired from the sport. Notorious for his pre-match warmup techniques, Maradona exuded confidence every time he stepped on the pitch, and once the whistle blew for kick-off anything was possible, so long as he was playing.
Maradona was a short, stocky attacking midfielder who made the complicated game of football look laughably easy with his unparalleled ability on the ball, one-of-a-kind vision and an elevated understanding of how the game works. Perhaps the most notorious example of this is his legendary goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, which was later deemed FIFA’s ‘Goal of the Century’.
An incredible solo effort, the goal itself is a testament to how naturally gifted Maradona was as a footballer – he was a man who could take the unimaginable and make it routine. England striker Gary Lineker admitted he “felt like applauding” as he witnessed Maradona make his own teammates look like amateurs. Lineker’s response to the goal is no surprise, though. Maradona’s brilliance was unifying, and it brought fans from all over the world together to witness a talent that only comes around once in a lifetime.
Maradona’s career was tumultuous – chastised during his spell at Barcelona, deified during his time playing for Napoli, and subject to the soaring highs of winning a World Cup, as well as the lows of being expelled from the same competition eight years later, Diego Maradona went through it all. But the entire way through, he always played football with a smile on his face, and those who watched smiled with him.
Maradona may have had a somewhat complicated personality, but that is now irrelevant. In light of his untimely passing, millions around the world will rejoice to remember his greatness, and celebrate the countless moments of joy he brought us during his incredible career. The man etched into footballing history for the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, Diego Maradona himself became a figure comparable to God for many around the world. His legend, skill and charisma earned him the nickname ‘Dios’ – it was not cast upon him for no reason.
Diego Armando Maradona was a man of multitudes. The man who scored the ‘Hand of God’ goal is the same man who, 4 minutes later, scored the FIFA ‘Goal of the Century’. Only he was capable of pulling both off at all, let alone inside 4 minutes. We might never witness anyone like him again.
Diego Armando Maradona: 1960-2020
Nicolas Murphy – Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor