HE WILL LIVE without end on that sunny June afternoon in 1986 within the Aztec stadium in Mexico Metropolis. It was the quarter-final of the World Cup between Argentina and England. Within the fifty fifth minute Diego Armando Maradona collected the ball within the Argentine half and carved his approach by the England defence as if it wasn’t there earlier than hanging a low laborious shot. It was one of many best targets of all time. It got here simply 4 minutes after Maradona, with the match scoreless, had risen to fulfill a miscued clearance within the England penalty space and punched the ball into the online. He had scored, he mentioned later, “a bit with the pinnacle and a bit with the hand of God”. With no video refereeing again then, the aim stood. It was, he mentioned, a sort of revenge for Argentina’s defeat at English fingers within the Falklands (Malvinas) struggle 4 years earlier.
Between them, these targets summed up Mr Maradona, who died of a coronary heart assault aged 60 on November twenty fifth. Blessed with divine expertise, he had little respect for the principles in a life that supplied riches however which was at all times a wrestle. He embodied the idiosyncrasy of his nation, as Clarín, an Argentine newspaper, famous: “Maradona is the 2 mirrors, that wherein it’s a pleasure to treat ourselves and that which shames us.”
The son of a maid and a manufacturing facility employee, he grew up in a tin-and-cardboard shack in Villa Fiorito, within the rustbelt suburbs of Buenos Aires. As an grownup he stood 5 ft, 5 inches, however his stocky physique and muscular legs gave him explosive energy. His logos can be surging runs, the ball glued to his ft, and instinctive imaginative and prescient.
His skilled profession started when he was 15 at Argentinos Juniors, a historic however modest membership. Success there took him to Boca Juniors after which to Barcelona and Napoli. However he discovered fame and fortune laborious to deal with. He craved affection. Nightclubbing within the firm of freeloaders and gangsters led to cocaine dependancy. There have been many ladies, a few of whom he beat, and sufficient youngsters to kind a soccer staff.
The second half of Mr Maradona’s life was tragically grotesque. Overweight and infrequently in ache (referees have been much less protecting in his day), he made pathetic makes an attempt at comebacks. He failed as a supervisor, notably of Argentina’s nationwide staff. Made wealthy by capitalism, he noticed no contradiction in friendships with anti-capitalists Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.
Whether or not Mr Maradona was the greatest-ever participant, forward of his compatriot, Leo Messi, or Brazil’s Pelé, is a debate there isn’t a must resolve. Along with his humble origins, Guaraní blood and mop of darkish curls, for Argentines he was ever the pibe de oro, the golden boy. “You made us immensely glad,” mentioned Alberto Fernández, Argentina’s president, as he declared three days of nationwide mourning. ■
This text appeared within the The Americas part of the print version below the headline “Divine and damned”