It’s very easy to canonise Diego Maradona, which is understandable. But to only remember the good things is merely a fraction of his story…
Most of us viewed Diego Maradona from a far. Some were able to watch him up close. A select few met the man, were involved in the chaos of his life, absorbed his aura.
But not many of us had the ‘honour’ of being admonished by Maradona while he was in his pyjamas.
Adrian Clarke did, however. On The Totally Football Show this week, Adrian regaled us with the story about chasing Diego all around Buenos Aires as part of a merchandise (not like that) deal, desperately attempting to get the great man to sign some items that he had been paid to sign.
Diego went AWOL, popped up in Honduras then returned to Argentina to get on the sauce for his birthday. The morning after, Adrian showed up at his house to get the required signatures, only to find Diego in bed. From there, he was roused.
“He was furious. He said: “Never in my life, nobody – not my mother, not my father – would wake me at this hour.
“It was midday. It was part of the Diego experience.”
An amusing light anecdote about Maradona, but as Rory Smith pointed out, there was more significance to it, and in some ways summed up Diego Maradona.
“There’s a tendency to canonise people when they die, and that’s understandable and natural and done out of respect and affection, but it’s not fair to strike [stories like that] from his memory.
“The reason he’s held in so much esteem in Argentina is that he sums up the idea of what they call the ‘Pibe’ – the street kid with the dirty face, the tricky eyes and the grin.
“He was the perfect idea of the pibe, and summed up how they saw themselves as a nation, the traits they took pride in as a country. Though that’s a particularly Argentinean trait, it’s something we can all understand: this street kid who came from nowhere with this gift from god.
“The problem Maradona had was that he had that talent, and summed up all the impish, impudent brilliance, but he was never given chance to grow up.
“He was left exposed. He didn’t have that protection that players get now. He always blamed himself for his problems – he didn’t do as much as he could about them – but never blamed anyone else, he always said it was his responsibility.
“You wonder how much of it could’ve been stopped if he’d had the right luck to run into the right people to guide him in a way he just didn’t for vast periods of his career. That’s where that irascible, petulant side came out that we saw in Adrian’s story.”
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