Diego Maradona, the Argentinian great who redefined club and national team football in the 1980s has died on November 25, 2020, after suffering a heart attack. There has since been what seems to be an unstoppable outpour of emotions — on the streets of Argentina, in Naples where he is worshipped as a god, and in every corner of the internet. Argentina president, Alberto Fernández, declared three-day national mourning in his honor.
In 1986, Maradona led his country to international glory, carrying his team on his shoulders. It was in this competition, against England, that he scored the controversial ‘hand of God goal’ and another, in the build-up of which, he dribbled past five English players before rounding goalkeeper Shilton — This goal is said to be the greatest in the world cup history.
Just like his English opposition, everyone who saw that match would never forget the sight of such rare individual brilliance —It instantly entered the pantheon of tales told by the moonlight. He was a man on a mission to avenge his country who had been humiliated by England in the Falkland war four years back.
Much has been said about the dirty linen of his life — drug addiction, prostitution, hard-partying — which would form the catalyst of his fall from stardom. However, nothing is enough to discredit the merits of his genius.
Former team Napoli, with whom he won two Scudetto’s and a UEFA Cup, wore his number 10 jersey as they played against Rijeka in a Europa League game on November 26, 2020, in tribute to him. The club has announced the decision to rename their home stadium after him.
Brazilian football legend, Pelé, with whom Maradona shared the FIFA Player of the Century Award in 1999 took to Twitter to mourn Diego. “I have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a legend,” the octogenarian tweeted. “One day, I hope, we will play football together in the sky.”
Countryman, Lionel Messi, has also expressed his sadness. “He leaves us, but he is not gone because Diego is eternal.” Five-time player of the year Award Winner, Cristiano Ronaldo says he is “One of the best. An unrivaled magician. He departs too soon but leaves a legacy with no limits and an emptiness that will never be filled.”
More tributes keep pouring, even from beyond the sports community, and this testifies that Diego Maradona’s icon is beyond the soccer pitch. He may now return God’s hand.