It has been some time since one of the most famous football players of all time left this world – Diego Armando Maradona. In the context of sports, he left us an example of what the original expression of the human body looks like in competitive form.
Diego Armando Maradona was born in 1960 in Buenos Aires, into a poor Roman Catholic family. As the fifth of eight children, he was born on Sunday. Sunday is a holy day for almost every Argentine because football matches are held then. Chroniclers say that his destiny was already sealed.
As his uncle was a former football player, he was the one who passed on his love for football. At 16, Diego played his first match for the senior Argentions Juniors. He then became the youngest first division footballer in the history of Argentine football. The rest is past.
It is a well-known fact, even for those who do not follow sports, that Maradona’s life outside of football was full of scandals. While playing for Napoli in the 1980s, he lived a debauched life.
He met Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1986. They have been great friends ever since, even dying on the same date.
His “Hand of God” is also known. When he scored a handball in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico against England, he called it “God’s”. He alluded to the revenge of the English for defeating the Argentines in the Falklands War. Argentina beat England at that World Cup and became world champions in football for the second time.
In popular culture, he has the status of a deity, and in Argentina there are three icons that represent them as a nation: tango icon Carlos Gardel, politician Eva Peron and Maradona.
When we look at Maradona we see that he was far from an ideal person. On the contrary, we can say that his life outside of sports was quite controversial.
So why do people love him so much?
The reason why people love him is because, in the context of the football game, he represents pure originality, authenticity. The metal that best signifies this originality is – gold.
Although we know how to be slaves to routine in everyday life, we love the opposite in other people. We like to be close to people who have spontaneity and who are not fake, but real.
Also, looking at such people and their performance we mirror ourselves. We, too, have segments in life where we give our best, where we are real. It can be a relationship with a partner, family or at work. In sports performance we can have an expression of originality, as we can have in art or gardening.
On the other hand, we have parts of us that are not like that, that are the complete opposite. As we have in Maradona’s example. Yet we are only human, with all our flaws and virtues.
The nickname Maradona, in Spanish, is El Pibe de Oro. In English it reads The Golden Kid, and in Croatian Zlatni dječak. That nickname has accompanied him throughout his career.
We can recognize this childishness in his football game in ourselves even now that we are adults, but also in today’s children. Get out on the street and just play all day. To be completely in the moment here and now. Be unrelated to the game and enjoy it, knowing it’s just a game. This is the essence of sports, but also of life in general.
This is when we feel the joy of life without any conditioning. That feeling should not be conditioned by anything external.
And indeed, when we look at Maradona in football footage, his face shows that he looks like a playful child. There is nothing but him and the ball fused into one, with no burden around performance and results.
So let’s keep that childish in us, let our gold shine like Maradona’s in football.