26. NOVEMBER 2020 DIEGO MARADONA - THE IMMORTAL ONE
This week, a football shirt was auctioned on Ebay for EUR 250. It was a dark blue Adidias shirt from Argentina’s national football team who fought against Germany in the 1990 World Cup final in Italy. Germany wore adidas and Argentina wore adidas.
Diego Maradona was the genius of football at the time. He seemed indestructible and to be blessed by the Muses. Small in stature (only 1.65m tall), he once leapt into the air, to get the better of a gigantic English goalie – and bang! The ball was in the back of the net. After the game, Maradona blinked at the fuming British journalists and simply said : “What’s the problem? You think I used my hands on the ball? No! No! And if so: It was the Hand of God.”
After that, no-one could hold a grudge against him – except perhaps for the English!
He sent his nation into raptures when helped to win the World Cup for Argentina. During the tournament, he wowed millions of people: Even during warm up, he would place the ball under his magical spell. And during every game, he ran circles around the other players. His goals were pure strokes of genius …
When his career ended, Maradona sadly went completely off the rails with alcohol, drugs and binges. Public comebacks were followed by another fall from grace. The hero lost his unique physicality, Adonis turned into a man plagued by illness and disease. And now he has passed away.
Argentina is shrouded in black. Alberto Fernandez, the country’s President, writes: “You took us to the top of the world. You made us very happy. You were the greatest of all time. Thank you, we are grateful to have known you, Diego. We will miss you for the rest of our lives.”
The world of football is in mourning. Naples is renaming the Stadio San Paolo in honour of Maradona. The announcement came from Naples’ mayor Luigi de Magistris, who also declared a day of mourning for the man who could park his Ferrari anywhere in Naples and leave it unlocked – Maradona’s possessions were holy to everyone in the city.
On Wednesday evening, the blue flags of SSC Napoli were flying in several districts of Naples, as a sign of respect for the deceased Maradona. Several fans appeared on the streets donning No.10 shirts, the number Maradona wore during his time with the club.
Corrado Ferlaino, owner of SSC Napoli and Maradona’s employer in the late 1980s, described him as a “genius”.
When this “genius” competed against Germany in the World Cup final in 1990 Germany’s manager Franz Beckenbauer famously told his team before the match: “Guys, one of you won’t be enough to take on Maradona. But someone’s got to do it. OK Guido – best of luck.”
Their encounter was legendary, the German Guido Buchwald versus the compact Diego Maradona with all his tricks. It was one of the best performances of Buchwald’s soccer career. In the end, the German ground his opponent down. And Germany won the World Cup 1:0.
Today, a devastated Guido Buchwald recalls: “After the match, we both went for a doping test. He, the superstar, had tears in his eyes. I found that very moving. That’s when I realised how human Diego was – in spite of his fame, in spite of his money and in spite of his exceptionalism.”
Buchwald still finds it difficult to believe that Maradona is no longer among us. “Even if his life has come to an end, you can’t help but feel that he’ll be back at any moment. It’s difficult to take in.”
Today a word is spoken, a word mentioned in all the obituaries around the world, a word that will always live on:
Maradona – «immortal».