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Diego Armando Maradona,
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The life of the former football player Diego Armando Maradona is recreated in this film, from his childhood up to his first heart attack and his firm decision of recovering himself, passing... See full summary »
During this magical Mexican summer, the world found a successor for Pele.
Diego Armando Maradona had been sixteen years of age in 1978 when Argentina won the World Cup at home. He was already the biggest star, and the greatest player in a country obsessed with football. Everybody had begged Cesar Luis Menotti to play the boy genius, but the manager thought that he was not yet ready.
History records that Argentina won the 1978 World Cup fairly convincingly - they hadn't really needed Maradona. The same was not true in 1982. Spain was a catalogue of disaster for Argentina. Menotti - still chain smoking - played Diego this time, but the occasion was too much for such a temperamental boy. Maradona had signed for Barcelona on June 4 1982 for around $7 million - nine days later he played his first game at the Camp Nou and Belgium beat Argentina one-nil. It was not an auspicious debut, and even though he scored twice against Hungary in the next match, Maradona will remember the mundial as the site of his nadir - a crude, petulant foul on Brazil's Batista in the Second Round that abruptly ended his tournament and Argentina's reign as world champions.
But now that was all behind him. Maradona had muddled his way through some crazy times at Barca, and left in 1984 to join Napoli. It was as if he was finally home. The Neapolitan tifosi had done everything to entice Maradona to poor, underachieving Napoli. Gifts from old women and pocket money from young boys nestled uncomfortably with the Camorra's millions as part of the transfer fee, and the city was determined to make him feel at home. So, for the time being at least, Maradona was El Rey - he brought his Argentine side to Mexico as one of the favourites, and with a new manager - Carlos Bilardo replacing Menotti.
Maradona is the hero of this story, a one-man World Cup winning machine. In 1982, hundreds of young men had died in a pointless battle for the Falkland Isles; now the British press yearned for a rematch (with the same result) in Mexico City. Maradona was still regarded with distinction in England, remembered more for a superb performance in Britain during a 1980 tour than for Spain. But he was still an Argie: the enemy.
England actually started well, and Lineker could have scored after only twelve minutes. A key event happened on 8 minutes. Fenwick, the big and limited English defender, was booked - he was now terrified of making any challenges around the penalty area.
After a tense first 45 minutes, the second half started with a bang. Maradona danced forward after 50 minutes, but could find no way through. Similarly Valdano's attempt hit only white shirts. Then the moment of infamy that serves as Diego's epitaph. Hodge bizarrely hooked the ball back into his own penalty area, Shilton hurriedly jumped to claim - but there was Maradona, somehow rising above the English goalkeeper to thrust the ball into the net. How had he done it? Simple: handball.
The most famous foul in football history passed in near slow motion. Every spectator waited for Mr Al-Sharif of Syria to blow for the foul (he didn't). Shilton looked and appealed to the linesman - he ran back to the centre circle. Unless he assassinates the Pope, or becomes the first man to step foot on Mars, when the great man dies this moment will be shown first - in long, lingering, slow motion, followed by the look of glee on his face. The next image will be his next gift to the world - the World Cup's finest goal.
Burruchaga stroked the ball to Maradona who was ambling around on the right hand side of his own half. He span, and accelerated away from Beardsley and Reid. This was the real Diego - he burst through Butcher and attacked Fenwick. Fenwick now had the opportunity to stop the attack. Normally, he would have aimed his boot somewhere near Maradona's thigh - sure he would have picked up a red card, but who cares? Then Fenwick had a brainwave - he hesitated, and decided to run at Maradona waving his arms - perhaps he was trying to put him off? Diego shot into the box as Fenwick fell over. Butcher had been running alongside the genius as if he was offering encouragement. Shilton charged out in panic, and Maradona twisted around him and prepared to score. Now Butcher remembered his role and tried to cripple the Argentinean - instead he gave extra impetus to the shot, which smashed into the goal. England were coming home.
During this magical Mexican summer, the world had found a successor for Pele. In fact the greatest ever footballer had been surpassed - Pele had been superb in 1958 and 1970, but had had great players all around him. Maradona did not. 1986 was his World Cup.
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