The legacy of Diego Maradona

Peter O'Neill

Maradona in action for the Argentina national team.

It’s a fool’s errand to try to summarise Diego Maradona’s life and impact into just one article. He is so much more than that.

Watching archive footage of old footballers, it’s hard to quantify just how good they really were without having viewed it at the time it was recorded. All of the money in the modern game has produced vast improvements in sports science, pitches and the training players receive.

However, Maradona is one of the few that bridges that gap. His second goal against England in the famous “Hand of God” match, the many compilations of those brilliantly scored for Napoli and Argentina somehow bridge the generational gap.

When you consider how amazing watching a young Maradona would have been in 2020, it’s incomprehensible. His iconic status around the globe still surpasses his peers when debating the greatest ever footballers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and even Pelé.

One thing that makes him stand out from the others here, is the person behind the dribbling and bombastic personality.
Interestingly, compared to those two, the most noteworthy was what he represented politically.

He described the 1986 game against England, as a second war, occurring only recently after the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Another part of the symbol of Maradona, due to his big moment of his game, was him as a symbol of anti-colonialism.

The 2019 documentary, “Diego Maradona”, directed by Asif Kapadia, brilliantly showcases the two sides to his personality.

There was “Diego”, the poor kid from Argentina overwhelmed by fame and glory that came from his footballing ability, and “Maradona”, his larger-than-life persona he created to cope with the love, affection, and infamy that greeted him everywhere he went.

Ultimately, as his life went on and he couldn’t cope with what was happening around him, this second personality took over more and more. While some might argue that even though he has died young at 60; he lived an exciting life to the fullest even with excess, it’s sad to see a man crying out for help at so many points in his life.

You just hope that when he did leave us this year, he was more at peace with his life than he was in his darkest hours.

Peter O’ Neill

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