” What Maradona could do with the ball was so unthinkable that sometimes you could mentally get out of the game just by looking at it. The man who speaks (in an interview with the So Foot in 2007) is a famous extra. This June 22, 1986 at the Aztec stadium in Mexico City, Jorge Valdano lifts his arms several times, screams that he is alone, that he can score. After all, isn’t he the center-forward of this Argentina team and the attendant in this task?
But Diego Armando Maradona never sees him in the middle of the English defense. So Valdano watches, punches his ticket to see his teammate mark what remains for many as “the goal of the century”. Why ?
Beyond the incredible action that everything has been said about, there is also the context. This World Cup quarter-final against England (2-1), Maradona turned it into a return match for the Falklands, to avenge the scorned honor of the Argentine people because of a “big stone” lost in Atlantic and best known for its sheep population.
Four minutes earlier, the player put his fist over the gloves of goalkeeper Peter Shilton, but preferred to speak of “hand” because it sounds better alongside “God”. At 25, Maradona is not yet one. He has two games left before he becomes one. Two matches to wear a selection that posterity has judged – with a touch of severity sometimes – as an addition of ordinary players, glories on the decline and whose main merit would be to be the compatriots of a genius who exceeds them.
“ Cosmic kite, what planet are you from? “, Inquires the legendary radio reporter Victor Hugo Morales, who” weep for Argentina », Him the Uruguayan by birth after the special slalom of Maradona.
“Thank God, Diego is Argentinian”
By its excesses, its fragility and this manhandled body until his death at barely 60 on November 25, 2020, ” El Pibe de oro (The golden child) was all that was more human. Despite a church founded in 1998 to celebrate his worship, the Argentine had more modest ambitions: to be the best at his sport.
In the summer of 1986, Zico and Michel Platini still challenged this status before the Mexican World Cup. But the Brazilian and the French are coming out of an exhausting season, in their thirties they already feel the weight of the years and rely on the collective when asked about their ambitions. Maradona ignores false modesty.
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