What legacy is left behind?
On Wednesday, November 25th the world of football, or as Americans have come to know it as, soccer, lost a legend. Diego Maradona was considered one of
the greatest of all time. He passed away at the age of 60, due to a heart attack. In his prime, he was always the heart of attack forces that put fear in the defenses he went against, whether it be in his home land of Argentina with world famous Boca Juniors, or Spanish giants Barcelona after a then world record 5 million pound (7.6 million dollar) transfer. The nickname “El Pibe de Oro” or “The Golden Boy” would be a nickname that would be fitting of a player of his caliber.
In his prime, Maradona and Pele were always being compared and discussed about being the greatest, much like today with another Argentine playing for Barcelona, Lionel Messi being compared with Cristiano Ronaldo. Maradona played for world known teams Barcelona, Napoli in Italy, Sevilla in Spain, after that returning to Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors before retiring for good. He is arguably the most decorated Argentinian for his national team, captaining his country to the World Cup Title in 1986 in Mexico, where he scored arguably the most famous goal of all time that shouldn’t have been allowed, “The Hand Of God” against England. With that goal he scored with his hand, he described the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of god.” Thus the name for the goal became “The Hand Of God”.
The Argentine was known for his flair, passion and incredible skills. His influence is still seen on the field today. Lionel Messi plays on the right hand side of the football pitch, wears the famous #10, playing for Barcelona and representing Argentina at the World Cup. Messi is brilliant and scores amazing free kicks, much like Maradona did in his prime. That will be his legacy on the field, but off the field he will be remembered for other things, unfortunately. He battled a cocaine addiction after his playing days, as well as weight-gain and physical decline.
Maradona was a rock star before it was cool. He had constant battles with drugs, alcohol, and partying. During his playing days, he was known for “playing a game on Sunday, going out until Wednesday, then hitting the gym on Thursday.” He had a personal fitness coach before it was common among players at that time. He had personal issues, metabolism issues, prescription medication problems to go along with inactivity during his career due to injuries and suspensions.
When all is said and done, how are athletes that we idolize on the field remembered? Should we remember what the player did on the field to represent his country and clubs we love to cheer for? Watching players like Maradona makes you remember why the game of football is called “The Beautiful Game”, even though at the end of the day, these men are just that, men. They have issues off the field just like any other human being, but on the pitch, these men are heroes to little kids everywhere. They seem magical and are even legendary, so at the end of the day we can remember the ending in one of two ways: The legend on the field or the man off the field. No matter how you decide to remember him, Maradona is a name that will be remembered. May he finally rest.