Diego Maradona has died.
One of the greatest soccer players of all time, a World Cup winner, Serie A icon, European champion, the Argentine international’s significance beyond the sport will likely be lost on many Americans, but Michael Jordan is probably the closest analogy.
I was once at a soccer game and talking to a Frenchman about the upcoming World Cup. When I asked him who he was supporting after the French national team – most World Cup viewers have distinct second favorites and little boys will usually provide you with a list of their favorites in each group – he looked rather knowing and told me “one guess” before pulling up his shirt.
The entire left side of his torso was covered with a tattooed bust of Maradona.
This goal against England, scored for Argentina in 1986, is generally considered to be his greatest, although I personally find #8 on this top 10 list to be the most mindboggling. And, of course, the Hand of God goal will never be forgotten.
As for the evergreen “who was the greatest?” question, I don’t think that either Pele or Maradona were ever as interested in it as everyone else is. Unlike Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they were not rivals, they didn’t play the same position, and they appear to have had not only respect, but genuine affection for each other.
“Sad news to lose a friend like that. May God give enough strength to his family. For sure, one day we will kick a ball together in Heaven.” – Pele