Maradona has rushed out his story after a succession of problems with his heart. “This book isn’t about my private life,” he says, curiously for an autobiography, and context is relegated to the footnotes. The subtext is Maradona against the world.
Here is an example of obstacles put in the way of Maradona: In 1990 he was arrested and banned for 15 months. It was a conspiracy by FIFA, aggrieved at Argentina making the Italia ’90 World Cup Final instead of the home nation. Big business was also involved in some ill-defined way. He doesn’t even mention the reason for the arrest; the Mutu marching powder found in his apartment.
He then describes journalists turning up at his country house and being annoyed by this. The footnotes say: [Maradona shot the journalists with an air rifle].
He has a curious turn of phrase, “he let the tortoise get away from him,” an example of a line repeated throughout the book meaning the person isn’t in control of a situation. The translator notes that this isn’t a local idiom, just a phrase Maradona has invented.
His ego wears the book down and he writes almost exclusively from the third person. The whole thing feels as if it is a stream of consciousness shouted into a microphone and transposed straight into type. It is impossible to sympathise because there is not a shred of humility.
According to Maradona, he is always up against the wall, flying in the face of officialdom, combating vague injustices. “I’m just a simple kid from a Buenos Aires shanty town”, he says from his country mansion. Contradictions pepper the text and the final third most resembles Maradona himself; bloated, slightly manic and paranoid.
He was the greatest footballer of his generation and in later life, with sober and humble reflection, could have written one of football’s great stories. This isn’t that book and unfortunately, I don’t think he will live long enough to publish it.