28
Apr 04

Maradona

TMFDPost a comment • 200 views

It was interesting to hear opinions on Maradona’s heart attack. There is an e-mail doing the rounds with a distorted photo and something along the lines of ‘Get well soon, you cheating fat midget’. Eighteen years on from that goal and it still rankles with us.

On one hand, there is the footballer who scored one of the greatest goals in world cup history and the other hand? Well its five fingers are clenched into a small fist as it punches the ball over Peter Shilton. There is the innocent 10 year old doing ball tricks at half-time during Argentine league games and there is the wild-eyed 34 year old running to the camera after scoring against Greece, his muscles taut and his face snarling (and his body full of drugs of course).

If any footballer has had more impact on the game in a single season than Maradona did in 1981 I’ve never seen the footage. He took Boca Juniors to the title, scoring 20 goals along the way and creating countless more. It is an absolute joy to watch, the way he spins off defenders, those perfect passes. His European career was sweet and sour, he never really took off at Barcelona or Seville, but in Italy he was integral to Napoli’s renaissance.

So, what is his legacy? In his homeland he is up there with Eva Peron and Carlos Gardel. In Naples he’s part of the folklore, Here, he’s a pariah. OK, so he’s now a bloated disagreeable character and he’s never going to wear Pele’s ambassadorial shoes, but to appreciate football, well, you must appreciate Maradona too.

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