El Pibe de Oro. The Golden Boy. A nickname so profusely befitting of the icon that was Diego Armando Maradona.
The man who took a stranglehold of the Number 10 position and revolutionized attacking football.
Simply, one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game.
Love him or hate him, Maradona left his indelible mark. He was a winner. He worked his wonders in Argentina, Spain and Italy bringing trophies home all along the way.
Maradona became the face of the sport. His genius laid the foundation for his legend.
But no club reveres Diego Maradona more ferociously than Italian giants Napoli. His 115 goals from 259 total appearances catapulted Gli Azzurri to the supreme heights of Serie A. Those seven seasons from 1984-1991 with Maradona in his absolute prime cascade with memories no fan will ever desire to forget.
And the personal accolades deservedly followed. Unfortunately, Maradona is not European and thus was ineligible for the most prestigious of football prizes, the Ballon d’Or. Who knows how many he would have won, but certainly the likes of Michel Platini, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten were the direct benefactors of this now eradicated, nonsensical by-law. Diego was far and away the best in the world for some time.
At his pomp, Maradona was unplayable. He was a magician. A conductor. With the ball magnetized to his feet, defenders could only salivate and watch him pass by. They were helpless to his guile and artistry. His technique was flawless. His ability to innovate unheard of. The man bordered on biblical -- the answer to the question, “Dios existe o no?”
And that wizardry poked its head in such an emphatic manner during the World Cup of 1986. There are no stories of that tournament that do not include Diego Maradona. He was the spectacle. A chain of wondrous performances one after the other as his Argentina cohorts marched to the summit. It was a summer of genuine dominance of the like the world hadn’t seen since the heady days of Pele. Maradona scored the most famous and most infamous goals in the history of the sport as part of the Albiceleste siege that brought the gold trophy back home to Argentina.
Maradona is extraordinary. And that we celebrate. He is a human with flaws but possessed a flair and talent that the entire globe stopped in their tracks to witness. Maradona dared spectators to dream. He made us want to. The countless moments of brilliance he forged and the billions worldwide he consequently inspired are why he is so lauded. And always will be.
We salute the Golden Boy from Buenos Aires and commemorate his lasting legacy within what we all love so much: football.
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