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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Eduardo Galeano: Maradona

File:Maradona 1977 debut.jpg

It was 1973. The juvenile teams of Argentinos Juniors and River Plate faced off in Buenos Aires.

Number 10 for Argentinos received the ball from the keeper, evaded River's centre forward and took off. Several players tried to block his path: he put it over the first one's tail, between the legs of the second, and he fooled the third with a backheel. Then, without a pause, he paralyzed the defenders, left the keeper sprawled on the ground, and walked the ball into the net. On the field stood seven crushed boys and four more with their mouths agape.

That kid's team, the Cebollitas, went undefeated for a hundred games and caught the attention of the press. One of the players, "Poison", who was thirteen, declared: "We play for fun. We'll never play for money. When there's money in it, everybody kills themselves to be a star and that's when jealousy and selfishness take over."

As he spoke he had his arm around the best-loved player of all, who was also the shortest and the happiest: Diego Armando Maradona, who was twelve and had just scored that incredible goal.

Maradona had the habit of sticking out his tongue when he was on the attack. All his goals were scored with his tongue out. By night he slept with his arms around the ball and by day he performed miracles with it. He lived in a poor home in a poor neighborhood and he wanted to be an industrial technician.

File:Maradona-212369675 3c30adbbb4 o.jpg


Eduardo Galeano: Goal by Maradona, from Futbol a sol y sombra (Football in sun and shadow), 1998, trans. Mark Fried

Diego Maradona during his debut for Argentina against Hungary, 1997: photographer unknown
Votive shrine for Maradona (a little altar with true hairs of the saint), Via Spaccanapoli, Piazetta Nilo, Napoli: photo by dieghito, 2006
Diego Maradona, managing Argentina against Nigeria, 12 June, 2010: photo by Kerim Okten/Epa via the Guardian


leigh tuplin said...

With an ever so slightly bitter lump in my throat ;) there has been no better player. With balance like that he stood on top of the world.

Anonymous said...

He was born in a very poor part of the District of Lanús and he became the best football player ever. He has done and said many things I do not agree with but in the field, he is a real king. We Argentinians feel very proud of him. =)

Tom said...

Always a ray of light (and he's done and said very little I don't agree with): even his training methods for the World Cup have a certain flair.

TC said...

Must confess that I have developed a secret special place in my heart for Maradona ever since learning, a while back, that he comes from the same neighbourhood as Lucy in the Sky.

And watching DM go through (and act out) the full gamut of human emotions on the sideline during the Nigeria game, and then watching him lift Lio Messi off the ground with a massive bear hug -- well, TWO massive bear hugs -- reminded me all over again that he is a glorious incorrigible impossible child. Irrepressible human expressiveness is going out of style in the public arena. Then again, that training tactic (see Tom's link) of lining up the fusiliers to pepper their teammates with shots from close range -- whew, boys' own world stuff, maybe SHOULD go out of style.

And while we're on Maradona's version of