Well, he was always sensational at finishing off a line. Maradona, born to the streets of Buenos Aires, who went on to become the greatest footballer of his generation, died aged 60 in November 2020 after a life of excess.
That he was a hero to the nation of Argentina, where he was nicknamed El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy) is hardly a shock. The 5ft 5in Madonna represented not just otherworldly genius on the football pitch, he was feted as an anti-authority rebel at war with the establishment, even if that meant bending the rules to win.
Maradona’s first goal, against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final – scored with his hand (though El Diego would later attribute it to “the hand of God”) – was as celebrated in his home country as his second, where he showed his God-given gifts to slalom past England’s defence to score the tournament’s most famous goal. The first goal showed his street cunning, the second his divine ability, in a game that came only four years after the Falklands War conflict between the two countries.
No shock that Maradona was worshipped by the people of Napoli, either. His face was always an ill-fit for an established super-club such as Barcelona and he was far more successful during his seven-year spell with the southern Italian upstarts, pulling down the shorts of Italian royalty Juventus (even if his time at the club inevitably ended in ignominy in 1991 with a 15-month ban after he tested positive for cocaine).
But the undying love of one South American country and one Italian city does not explain Maradona’s global appeal. Nor does his magnificent talent with the ball at his feet justify his ongoing popularity, as the fascination with Maradona went on long after his playing career ended, even as his tempestuous life jolted along, collecting negative headlines at the same rate with which he once racked up goals.