Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Was Diego my first idol?...nop. Like most people of my generation I had started loving Mohanlal from the time I understood movies. So then, when did I start loving Diego?. It must be during 1990, the ITALIA90, the World Cup. Back then, I was too young to stay awake all night and watch the game. But then I used to eagerly wait for the sports page in Mathrubhumi. And those days Mathrubhumi was a much better paper, and there was a lot of coverage for football too. The days when Kerala Police was winning all the cups in the town, the days of Sathyan, Vijayan, Papachan, Sharaf Ali, and Kurikesh Mathew.

I still remember seeing (or may be I saw it many years later) Maradona Magic overcoming Brazil and that sem-final with Italy which went to shoot-out. And then Argentina lost so controversially in the final. And nobody heard anything good about Maradona for a long time. Drugs,scandals,shooting journalists... that was all Maradona did for the next many years.

And then came USA94, my first complete world cup. And Argentina came to it as one of the favourites (like they have been doing for the last few world cups, only to crash-out early). And there was Maradona too, brought back from the wilderness, to re-create that magic. The first match against Greece will be remembered not for the powerful left foot volley that was Argentina's fifth goal, but the way he ran against a camera on the sideline and spit at it...Why did you have to do that Diego? Of all the people who were watching, there were thousand times more people who loved you than the ones who hated you.

And then there was that classic against Nigeria. I remember I had exams the next day, still I stayed awake all night to see Claudio Kaniggia curling one in from the touchline to seal an Argentine win. And the next day morning I went to school. Mavoor lies so close to Manjeri, Malappuram... Kerala's football heartland. And so there were so many die-hard fans around. I reached school, and we had this blackboard near the staircase where important notices were written. And the first thing I noticed was, somebody had written, "Maradona marunnadichu pidiyilayi"!.

That was the end of Diego Armando Maradona's international career. Never to don the colours of Argentina again, never to delight us with that amazing dribbling skills, never to promise so much and deliver so little... And then I forgot about him. Occasionally his picture used to come in the back page, that of an over-weight maradona, a divorced maradona, a hopitalized maradona... a going to die maradona.

And then, it was probably the "hand of god" that intervened again. Diego went to Cuba, came under intense treatment and dieting and slowly regained everything, most importantly his will-power. A knowledge that there is so much more he can do to the people who love him, for Argentina, for Latin America, for the world. Here he was, marching ten-thousand men along the streets of Buenos Aires, chanting slogans against Bush and imperialism,looking more trimmer than ever before.

Maradona now hosts an extremely popular talk-show, called "the night of the no:10" . Mainly dealing with his left leaning ideologies and anti-american/bush-ism. He has become so fit that many tip him to be Argentina's next coach!. In many ways, Maradona's life and Argentina's recent history are very much alike. A country trying hard to come out of a self inflicted economic disaster, would do well to have an icon like Maradona to rally its people around.

Dear Diego, I am happy to see you back. I love your ideologies and your politics. But for all the Bush battering and anti-imperialist resistance, we have Chavez (and he is doing a pretty good job in that). I want you to be back to where you belong, in the field, with the beautiful game. I want you to "play" again (as a coach ofcourse!). Dear Diego, I want you to stay alive...

(The inspiration for writing something for Maradona came, again thanks to Mathrubhumi, they had a sunday article (a few months before, which I saw only yesterday) on a group of people who set up a "Maradonian church", a religion to worship Maradona. According to the followers of the religion we are now in the year AD -47, "After Diego -47")


doc said...
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doc said...
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