A fan of the footballing legend mourns his passing away
The death of someone you consider an idol or an inspiration impacts you deeply. As someone who is passionate about football, I’ve looked up to a few players who I can say inspired me. Topping the list is the late Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentinian legend who departed the world recently.
Football boasts a long and illustrious history, and countless talented and hardworking individuals have been a part of the sport, but few managed to leave as lasting a mark as Maradona. Decades after his retirement from professional football, there was hardly a fan of the sport that didn’t know him or recount his famous matches and ‘moments’. Remember, the term “Hand of God”? I bet every one of us, no matter how young or old, is familiar with it.
Alongside legends like Ronaldinho and Pele, Maradona has been a role model for many of us footballers. (And here, I am talking strictly with respect to his sporting genius and not his personal life.) He was the reason we got into the sport. I can vouch for my circle of friends. We’d recall the game we played during our school days. The ground was always dominated by boys dressed in the iconic blue-and-white jersey of Argentina, with Maradona’s name and fabled number “10” adorning their backs.
Growing up, we’d often share among us the highlight reels of his on YouTube. And following a week of rehearsing our skills, we’d meet up on Saturdays at a park or ground in Lahore, trying to impress one another with Maradona-style dribbling and comebacks.
It was common to see a young teenage boy trying — and, often, failing — to recreate his countless memorable goals. His famous goal against England in the 1986 World Cup was a particular inspiration for us. That it would often lead to us tripping over our feet is another story altogether.
It was common to see a young teenage boy celebrating a goal a la Maradona, and trying — and, often, failing — to recreate his countless memorable goals. His famous goal against England in the 1986 World Cup was a particular inspiration for us. That it would often lead to us tripping over our feet is another story altogether. The rare instances when it worked would be talked about for weeks.
This man, who had retired before many of us post-millennials were even born, has left a legacy that shall continue to guide future generations. Despite his rather short (he was 5 feet 5 inches in height) frame, he won the very apt title of “El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Boy). He was a role model for my friends and I. Hardly a day would go by without us talking about a game of football and Maradona. Not to mention, our laments over how we’d not be able to watch him play in person.
He was someone who braved tough times and ultimately rose to achieve victory at the biggest of sporting platforms. After all, every football fan knows the importance of the FIFA World Cup. And here we had Maradona, who had captained his country to that, also winning the Golden Boot. It is not too difficult to imagine why many a teenager looks up to him.
My own early days were filled with posters of this truly magical player on my room walls, long conversations about him with my friends, and great amounts of time spent watching and re-watching YouTube videos to perfect my own skills. Rest in Peace, Maradona.
The writer is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at NUST, Islamabad. He can be reached at [email protected]