To write a small tribute to the one who was considered the God of Football is so humbling…from someone so insignificant!!
If people of my generation got introduced to football and realized that there is life apart from cricket. The credit goes to one and only Diego Armando Maradona. The year was 1986. We were getting used to color TVs. Live telecast was a rarity..(except cricket)..we were in the cold war era of Reagan – Gorbachev…when suddenly the whole of India got hooked to this curly haired 5’5″ genius weaving his way through multiple defender’s and almost single-handedly lifting Argentina’s only second world cup. For people like me, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 was alien, but what we could see was a man with enormous fire in his belly to fight the high and mighty of the footballing world and come out tops…that is what made Maradona the most loved footballer of our times…we liked fighters who died on the field for their country and not footballing philosophy !!
India and the whole world instantly lapped up this genius who the hi-gentry stiff upper lips regarded as a street urchin…they berated him…they loved to see him fail….but could not ignore him…the Hand of God notwithstanding, in the next 4 minutes he produced something which had to be put as the greatest World cup goal of all times.
Maradona was a man with an ability to lead from the front, to be a fighter of immense pedigree… this comes naturally when he went through a rough and tough childhood and the only way to come out of the doldrums was football…our era was more in tune with Country than clubs, we didn’t care if he played for Barcelona or Napoli….for us he was someone who catapulted his Country and himself into stratospheric heights…where surely some players today would easily give their left leg ( or right! ) to be in his position.
A diminutive Argentinian was responsible single handedly to cut Indian loyalists of Brazil into half and what followed thereafter was a never say die love affair with Maradona…the wonder genius of 1986 who scored 5 and assisted 5, went on to captain his tired Albiceleste to another final against the old enemy Germany in 1990 and he was inconsolable after a narrow defeat by a penalty…1994 was forgettable….his skills waned afterwards rapidly, but you could never remove him from hearts.
Maradona will always be remembered as the footballing genius and more so as a common man from the streets of Buenos Aires who fought against all odds to light the world of football with his amazing skill, never say die attitude, and shoulders broad enough to take the mighty weight of entire mankind! To us, he was and will always be a HERO.