Maradona: not a gentleman, but a genius
President Alberto Ángel Fernández immediately declared three days of national mourning in Argentina. The former club Boca Juniors’ Copa Libertadores match against Brazilian Internazionale was canceled. Mayor of Naples announced that Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo will be named after Diego Maradona.
The news of the death of arguably the greatest footballer of all time had barely hit the world when the impact of his death was immediately visible. In Naples and Buenos Aires, in every corner of the world, people are still mourning. Thousands of fans gathered in Buenos Aires, Ajax paid a Life warming-up tribute, Champions League teams held a minute of silence, and even tributes from Syrian war zones reached social media.
One man army
Maradona was a magician with a ball, an unequally gifted footballer who led his country Argentina and his club Napoli to unparalleled successes. While other world stars such as Pelé, Johan Cruijff, and Lionel Messi were especially known to excel in excellent teams, Maradona was his one-man army who lifted mediocre teams to the sky. He led mediocre and poor Napoli to the Italian championship for the first and second time in their club history. He played two World Cup finals with Argentina, winning the 1986 edition. Maradona, however, was more than just a brilliant footballer. We’re talking about a character larger than life, an athlete in which almost all imaginable extremes came together. It’s difficult to find an athlete with a more classical success story than Dieguito, including a rise and fall.
Return of the legend
Maradona never became a jet-set celebrity but remained as down to earth as one can get. El Diez was touchable, open, emotional, outgoing, and impulsive. When he returned to Argentina last year as a trainer of mid-sized club Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, he was carried across the South American nation on a sort of royal throne. In every stadium, in every city, Maradona was received almost ceremonially by hysterical fans. Mayors and club administrators showered him with gifts every week. Fans sang and cried of happiness, even though Maradona coached their opponent. His health was already extremely fragile then. After having gone through several drug addictions, he now had a serious alcohol problem. He walked like an old man. Even speaking out seemed too difficult.
A few weeks ago, he was taken to a hospital in La Plata with a cerebral infarction and had to undergo acute surgery. Like a cat with nine lives, he seemed to survive one of his many relapses once again, but this week his inimitable life story came to an end. Just a few weeks after his grandly celebrated 60th birthday, Maradona died in an Argentinian clinic. At Bet Builder, they have never seen a player who had such an impact on football. He surely wasn’t a gentleman, but a genius is the least we can call him. Rest in peace, Don Diego Armando Maradona.