Without running the risk of sounding like a song about Buddy Holly, football’s heart stopped beating after the death of one of the greatest – if not the greatest player to have played the beautiful game – sadly met his maker.
Diego Armando Maradona’s death at the age of 60 left the football world devastated and plunged his homeland into a three-day mourning hole of darkness. Never before has a son been so loved by the country. It’s been a while since the world of football enjoyed a true rags-to-riches story or a fall from grace, and it will be a very long time before we see such an outpouring of grief for a football player.
Diego had it all: poverty, wealth, talent, drug, and alcohol abuse. Links to gang figures and speculation of fathering children in different countries.
The little ‘black face’ from the slums of Fiorito in the nation’s capital Buenos Aires beat every odd going throughout his childhood and spent most of his adult career fighting off injuries and personal attacks.
There are not many players who are forced to wear two pairs of shin pads. The physical abuse Maradona endured certainly took its toll, but he played through the only way he knew: by fighting and scrapping for everything on and off the pitch.
His defining moment – fittingly – would come against England in the 1986 World Cup. The sheer cheek of his infamous self-titled ‘Hand of God’ still hasn’t been accepted by England fans and the players who played that day, but his second goal has often been described as the game’s best-ever goal at a World Cup finals.
Far from being the angel, Diego Maradona was not short on a flaw or two. His drug addiction will have played a part in his health issues, and the little Argentinian has had his share of fall-outs with authorities. Still, nobody can ever take away the fact that he played for every shirt he turned out in and gave everything for the fans who adored him. He gave nothing less than one-hundred percent to his profession.
We can talk about Pele or Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or Cruyff and many more, and we can debate all day which the greatest of them all is, but there is no argument or debate that Diego Armando Maradona was a one-off, unique in so many ways and for sure, there will never be anyone like him again.
When Maradona danced around defenders slotting home genius goal after genius goal, the world lit up.
When Maradona took his last breath on this planet last month, the world fell to darkness.
It really was the day the football died.