Maradona turns like a little eel, he comes away from trouble, little squat man … comes inside Butcher, leaves him for dead, outside Fenwick, leaves him for dead, and puts the ball away … and that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world – Bryon Butler, for BBC radio, on Diego Maradona’s second goal vs England at Mexico ’86
Maradona lifts the World Cup in 1986 – that year he gave the greatest tournament performance by any footballer
Diego Maradona, the best ever to do it, has died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Or as L’Equipe put it, God is dead. A touch dramatic perhaps, but it’s fitting.
He had emergency surgery on a cranial blood clot earlier this month, but clearly his health was extremely fragile. He paid the price for a gloriously excessive life, but I doubt he’d change a thing.
In my book, El Diego is football’s greatest icon. He stands above all-comers: Pele, Cruyff, Ronaldo, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, anyone you care to put up against him. He had more charisma in one little toe than the rest combined. For the same reason Muhammad Ali is the most famous boxer of all time, so Maradona should be the most famous footballer in history. Both men transcended their sport.
His talent shone in spite of the most difficult of circumstances. He spent his whole career being kicked to pieces by hatchet men (3% of all fouls committed at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups were on Maradona), but still he thrived. The brutality of his opponents, often comical in its blatant premeditation, only spurred him on – he never backed down from a fight, and he was always the smaller guy. His combination of divine ability and cojones was irresistible.
Diego leaves us now. He is canonised. Argentina will mourn. Naples will mourn. The rest of us who saw him will remember his genius, smile and raise a glass.