Diego Armando Maradona's greeting on his debut as coach of the Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata, in September 2019. Photo: Fabideciria/Shutterstock
Society

Maradona was not just a football player. The legend doesn't fit the sport

The Argentinian, who had brain surgery earlier this month to remove a clot, died of a heart attack this Wednesday, in a house in Greater Buenos Aires, at the age of 60

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Maradona was not a football player. The legend doesn’t fit the sport. Maradona was always present in discussions about the best players, athletes … in the world, but he didn’t fit in that discussion either. For the Argentine people, in fact, this discussion has always been in vain. There was never anyone greater than Diego Armando Maradona. And there really isn’t.

Like few, whenever Maradona left the pitch, he became bigger, for better or for worse. Doing something just to please someone was never the idol’s way of doing things. Symbol of a time when judgments took time, and great achievements only got bigger, the player on the pitch was swallowed up by the character, who ironically made the athlete even bigger. The peak he reached in the pitch shielded him from criticism, but it did not keep him from his greatest passion: life.

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And his life was confused with sport, with teams, with his country, with his people. The idolatry prevailing in Argentina is worthy of iconic personalities, citizens who moved countries, saved lives and changed the course of history with collective achievements and social changes. Diego did it all through sport, but mainly through the dedication with which he dealt with his passions.

Diego Armando Maradona’s greeting on his debut as coach of the Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata, in September 2019. Photo: Fabideciria/Shutterstock

This unique mix of wins and losses is what makes him special, what makes him much bigger than a football player. Maradona never left his world out of the pitch, no matter how much he needed it. He used to carry with him and into the four lines of the pitch, the same passion with which he lived each day of his life.

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The controversy embraced by a figure like Maradona is one of humanity’s most incredible dilemmas. How can such genius connect so directly to our worst human traits? How can someone be so adored while being so vile in so many other matters?

The contradiction in Maradona is as great as his talent on the pitch. The love he left for life, however, is one of the most tangible things an athlete has ever given the world.