Friday, February 13, 2009
Football is the only object in the world that truly speaks universal language. No physical, geographical, political barrier can discriminate or distinguish between two football players. Just the ball, a ground, and you are good to make friends with another person of similar possessions.
Thus, football often creates a notion of brotherliness, an atmosphere of enjoyment among players. Football extracts all the available emotion out of a fan. Football is a game that define our lives. It is simple as life. We all have goals in our life, and we are living to fullfil our dreams, or in other words, achieve our goals. This is just what players do in a football match. 11 individuals with a common goal. Everyone performing their duties to fullfill the common goal of the team..win the match. So football is our life. In life we believe in separate religions, and we believe in God. As football fanatics, there is a football God as well.
And we all know who that person is, Diego Armando Maradona. The person is a living legend no doubt, but more over, his football epitomises the magnitude of the word "Football God". The way he played the game, the way he made everything look so simple, the way he dribbled his way past several defenders in-humanly, the way he scored goals which others cannot even think of, makes him the God of Football. Whoever accustomed or associated with this beautiful game, will appreciate this statement. You can hate or like Diego Maradona, but you admit it, Diego Maradona played football in a different level than normal human beings can play.
He was a passionate person on field in his playing days. He was a star at the age of 16, he was emotionally devastated when he was not picked by Cesar Menotti in the Argentina squad for world cup 1978 at home soil. Argentina won that world cup, and Diego issue was almost sinking into oblivion. But Diego Maradona was not born to sink into oblivion. He lead Argentina to 1979 youth worldcup victory in Tokyo. Then came the 1982 world cup, and his skills were already being studied by other coaches. Italy and Brazil knew there is only one way to stop Diego, foul and kick him. They succeeded in doing that, and Maradona was shown red card against Brazil, and Argentina bowed out of the cup. He was involved in a big fighting scramble with Athletic Bilbao players in 1984 Kings Cup final while he was in Barcelona, another outburst of an emotional person.
But he played some of his best matches for Barcelona. Everyone was mesmerised by the left foot of this curly big haired dwarf boy. Then came the famous move to Napoli. He moved to Italy, and he became a legend for that club. But the tournament that made him soccer god, was 1986 World Cup. The 56 year history of the tournament never seen such enormous incredible display of soccer by a single player. The world cup was never so dominant by a single player. 1986 World cup, many considers, to be the best world cup till date. One of the reason behind this consideration is also for the plethora of stars played in that World cup. To name a few, Michel Platini, Joel Butts(France), Kareka, Zico, Socretes, Junior, Alemao (Brazil), Altobelli, Baresi (Italy), Butragueno(Spain), Peter Shilton, Linekar(England), Rumenigge, Schumakher, Voeller(West Germany), Franciskoli (Uruguay). These players are all excellent performers, and can change the outcome of a match with their own performance. But when Sun shines brightly, we dont see other stars. Such was Diego's dominance on the field. Koreans tried to kick him like hell , and he swiftly moved past those morons to beat them 3-1. He scored one of the ebst goals in the tournament against Italy, the match ended 1-1. He easily assisted for two goals to beat Bulgaria 2-0. Argentina snubbed past Uruguay 1-0...and met England at the quarterfinal, first time after the Falkland war.
These two countries hate each other. The match was goalless in the first half, and Diego's hand fooled everyone in 51st minute. The goal, known as, done by "Hand of God". Later England coach Bobby Robson admitted that it is Diego's credit that he fooled everyone in the ground with that spot-jump over shilton's head.
4 minutes letter, in 55th minute, Héctor Enrique passed the ball to Maradona some ten metres inside his own half. Maradona then began his 60-metre, 10-second dash towards the English goal, leaving behind five English outfield players – Hodge, Beardsley, Reid, Butcher and Fenwick. Maradona finished the move by dribbling round Shilton to make the score 2–0 to Argentina. About the goal, Maradona said, "I made the play to give it to Valdano, but when I got to the area they surrounded me and I had no space. Therefore, I had to continue the play and finish it myself."
This goal is considered goal of the century, and truly "greatest goal of all time scored by a single individual."
He mesmerized poor Belgium with his left foot in the semifinal, scored two goals. It was almost a mis-match for an world cup semifinal. In the final, WestGermans appointed Lothar Matheus as the man marker behind Diego. Poor Germans didn't know that Gods cannot be man-marked..!! Maradona created free space for Buruchaga and Valdano who ran riot for first 50 minutes of the match. Argentina were 2-0 up in the 50th minute, and everyone thought this one is in the bag for Albicelestes. But Germans are a different race than others not for nothing. The fighting spirit is in their blood. Rumenigge pulled one back from close range around 68th minute, and Rudi Voeller equalised from a deflected header around 80th minute. Score tied at 2-2 and momentum is shifting towards the germans. But when God is on the field, he make changes on his will. Diego delivered a slick pass from midfield to unmarked Buruchaga at the right side of the midfield, and Buruchaga ran with the ball like hell, and placed it past the advancing Schumacher to the back of the net.Argentina 3, Westgermany 2. Final whistle was blown after 2 minutes and Argentina became world champion for the 2nd time, and Diego Maradona put a permanent mark on the world cup trophy. This one is mine..!!
4 years later, He took Argentina to the final again. This time the team was completely different, inexperienced, but Maradona still showed his brilliance and determination. Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 in the 2nd round, and Diego was architect behind the Caniggia goal. The Argentina won both quarter final against the the Yugoslavia and Semifinal against Italy via penalty-shoot out,and Goicochea the goal-keeper was hero in both of them. Diego missed the penalty against Yugoslavia and converted against Italy. In final they again met WestGermany. Germans were no doubt the superior side in the final, but they couldn't score. Goicochea was standing farm, and Diego with his team was fighting. But the referee made sure that Argentina will not win the world cup this time. Klinsman's theatrical dives caused Monzon to elave the game with a red card, and then finally another dramatical dive by Rudi Voeller inside the penalty area in 85th minute earned them a penalty. That was how the German's won that world cup, and Beckenbauer admitted after the final that they did not want to win the world cup this way. The penalty was disputed, he admitted.
Anyways, Diego was targeted by Italy. Just because Argentina defeated Italy in the semifinal, and italy was out of the world cup on home soil. So all the anger was hurled upon Maradona.They plotted the drug scandal against him, and in 1991, Diego was suspended from football for 15 months. He came back in 1992, but never the same player he was before. He played in some small clubs, played in Newell Old Boys in Argentina, played few matches in Sevilla. Surprisingly he was in 1994 Argentina world cup squad though he was without any club at that time. He scored in the 1st match against Greece and assisted in both the goals in Argentina's 2-1 win over Nigeria. But the world cup was taking place in US. Diego is a good friend of Fidel Castro. US cannot stand Fidel Castro. So you can guess what will happen. Another conspiracy plot, another drug charge, and Maradona was banned from playing football. Argentina went out against Romania in the 2nd round, and so poor was refereeing in that match that FIFA suspended the referee , after that match. The same referee was later banned due to involvement in the Serie A bribery scandal involving Juventus, AC Milan in 2006.
Then slowly Diego's life was taking difficult turns. He was under drug, and hard drugs. He had problems in nervous system, he put on some serious weight. He retired from football in 1997, playing his last games at his old club Boca Juniors. But then he had serious drinking and drug problem, and his health deteriorated. He was admitted to hospital in 2004 after serious heart attack, and was in ICU for several days. He almost came back from jaws of death. He started his rehab program then, stopped drinking, started to host a talk-show at the Argentina Television, where he had guests like Pele, Zidane. Slowly he was coming back to normal life.
Diego as a person is always emotional. He was always involved in graphic conversations with referees, he always had the warmth to greet team-mates as well as opponents on and off the pitch, he was also involved in on-field brawls. He is an expressive mind.
Recently AFA has appointed Diego Maradona as the Coach of the Argentina national team. That is something he always dreamed of. Under his coaching, Argentina played two matches, both friendlies, beating Scotland 1-0 , and beating France 2-0. In both matches, we have seen the same old emotional Diego. He hugged every players at the half time, at the end of the match, when they came out of the pitch. He hugged every player when they are substituted. He hugged the opponent managers and players as well. To him, football is life, and he is the ultimate creator of the art of football. To him, football is the passionate object through which he expresses his mind. That is why he does not get bogged down by political diplomacies, and hug every one, team-mates, players, coaches, opponents. Cause , everyone is part of the world , that he created, and he is the authority of. Football. The world is a better place, when the game of football is played, and when Diego Armando Maradona is drenching the globe with his emotions.
We are all delighted because we have witnessed the re-incarnation of the football god.