Ten Reasons Why You Can’t Help But Love Maradona
As world football continues to mourn the loss of Diego Armando Maradona, one of the greatest players to ever play the game, we pay tribute to our favourite number ten with ten reasons why you can’t help but love the little Argentinian.
The ‘Hand of God’
In 1986, Diego Maradona was the reason Argentina won the World Cup in Mexico. He was the undoubted star of the tournament.
On route to victory he came up against an England side who had their own ambitions they could go all the way for the first time since 1966.
The game would go down in footballing folklore and Maradona would be at the centre of it all.
His first has become one of the most famous and most talked about goals in history, and one that those in England still struggle to forgive and forget.
His second goal against the English in ’86
Despite the infamy of the first goal, their was no doubting the genius of Maradona’s second just four minutes later.
England goalkeeper Peter Shilton maintains the absurdity of the first goal just a short time before was still playing on many of the English players minds and their heads had gone.
That doesn’t detract from the sheer quality and skill that Maradona showcased with this goal.
Picking it up in his own half, meshed between two men in white shirts, he turns and starts eating up the grass on the right hand side of the pitch. He beats one, then two, faints to shoot past the hapless Shilton before rounding him and slotting home. Perfection!
His pre-match warm-up
It’s 1989. In Germany to face the mighty Bayern Munich. A UEFA Cup semi-final. Nerves right? Not for Maradona.
With Austrian pop-rock group Opus ‘Live is Life’ blasting through the stadium speakers, Maradona decided to delight the travelling Napoli fans with this iconic warm-up routine, a dance display with the football as his partner.
I defy anyone to watch this routine and not have the tune in your head for the rest of the day.
The scrap against Bilbao
The reason why Maradona will always go down as one of the greats was his ability to withstand some of the treatment dished out to him by opposition players.
This was never more apparent than in the Copa del Rey Final of 1984.
There was history here when Barcelona took on Athletic Bilbao, as the ‘Butcher of Bilbao’ Andoni Goikoetxea, had broken Maradona’s ankle in a meeting between the sides the previous September.
Athletic won the final 1-0 and as Maradona trooped of the pitch, the frustration of 90 mins being booted about was finally unleashed, with Maradona attacking Athletic player Sola, sparking a mass brawl.
It was his last game in a Barcelona shirt and he even had to apologise to the King of Spain for his part in it.
Still, check the hit he gets on Sola on 14 seconds!
The love of the Scotland fans
Many would gift the origin of the Tartan Army’s love affair with Diego Maradona to 1986 and his ‘Hand of God’ goal against the English. I mean, they even have a song about him that alludes to the use of his hand against Shilton.
But Maradona also graced the Hampden turf in 1979 where he scored his first goal at international level.
He also managed his first match as Argentina boss at…..you guessed it, Hampden against Scotland. Every time his image appeared on the big screen he was greeted with cheers from the Scottish fans, surely a first for an opposing international manager.
It could be argued that the Tartan Army have joined the likes of Boca Juniors and Napoli fans in having an undying love for Diego Maradona.
His shithousery against Nigeria
It’s no secret Maradona you know, liked a sniff sniff now and then. And it could be argued that he was on the sniff sniffity sniffy sniff this night in St Petersburg, Russia.
Argentina had arrived at the 2018 World Cup as one of the favourites, but found themselves needing to beat Nigeria to have a chance of qualifying from the group stage.
After a sublime Leo Messi goal, Nigeria pegged them bag through a Victor Moses penalty.
But Marcos Rojo’s goal four minutes from time meant the Argies were on their way through.
What proceeded was Maradona celebrating the way we all really do when our team snatches victory from the jaws of despair, with unfiltered joy! Sniff sniff!
Writing in his recent book ‘1312: Among the Ultras‘, James Montague tells a tale about how ‘La Doce’, Boca Juniors Ultra organisation, were given instructions by the club to keep an eye on Maradona and his chums.
‘One famous example, was the arrival in 1995 of Maradona and Claudio Caniggia. Both joined Boca looking to rebuild their careers after lengthy drugs bans.
Maradona’s addiction to cocaine had already led to one 15-month ban whilst he was at Napoli. At the 1994 World Cup he failed another drugs test, this time for ephedrine.
Caniggia was a renowned party animal who served his own 13-month ban for taking cocaine when he played for Roma.
The pair had been the first signings under Macri, himself trying to rehabilitate his reputation as a diffident playboy, in an attempt to win over the Boca crowd and bring instant success.
But the two players, were going out every night and then failing drugs tests back at the club. So Boca asked the barra to rein them in. “Every time they saw Caniggia or Maradona partying, they had to stop them and warn them, otherwise, they would punch them!”‘
The fact England can’t forgive him
When Maradona came to Scotland as the Argentina manager, the Scotland national team assistant manager was none other than Terry Butcher.
Now, not suggesting he was still a tad bitter about events in 1986, but TB reportedly planned to refuse to shake the great Maradona’s hand.
Did Diego care? Don’t think so.
And that he dosen’t care that they can’t
Pushed and pushed and pushed, a year after the ‘Hand of God’, Maradona was on prime time Saturday night UK TV. Pressed to what, apologise to the English nation?
He wasn’t fussed, it was probably the reason he agreed to attend such punditry. He was always in on the joke, if others weren’t.
Just three days after the 1987 FA Cup final Brazil come to Wembley for a Rous Cup game and ITV have a studio guest at halftime – Diego Maradona. Nick Owen waits all of 30 seconds before ambushing him to ask about *that* goal. Diego's lack of fucks given is perfect. pic.twitter.com/leZxB6YmLb — David Hartrick (@DavidHartrick) November 15, 2020
His disregard for the keepers pride
Keeping the best till last. Diego Maradona just loved football. Be it the Azteca in Mexico, the Nou Camp in Spain, the San Paolo in Naples or a mucky mud filled park! The joy. The pleasure Diego Maradona had when he had a football at his feet.
He had an insatiable affection with a ball.
And he loved to dink a goalkeeper. With no regard for this goalkeepers feelings, there isn’t a better video that encapsulates Diego Armando Maradona.
This has always been my favourite Maradona video due to the state of the pitch. pic.twitter.com/Pszagn1BcH — Neil Forsyth (@mrneilforsyth) November 25, 2020
Fancy a night out in Buenos Aires like Diego Maradona?
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