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World Argentina buries Maradona, 'the golden kid' and flawed man who became a global icon

13:55  27 november  2020
13:55  27 november  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Diego Maradona - a global icon . Friday, 27 November 2020 5:33 AM [ Last Update: Friday, 27 World superstar Diego Armando Maradona has died after suffering a heart attack at his home in the suburbs of Buenos He was a flawed footballing genius who managed to capture the imagination of the world.

Maradona was Argentina 's " Golden Boy," unquestionably the greatest player of his generation and one of the greatest in the game's history. While he was already an icon before Argentina 's victorious 1986 World Cup campaign, his performances in Mexico -- in particular the quarterfinal against

Diego Maradona was perhaps the greatest player ever to kick a soccer ball. And yet that only goes so far to explain the global outpouring of grief when he died this week.

Some argue the Brazilian Pele won more trophies, or that fellow Argentine Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo have approached comparable skill levels.

But there are none like Maradona — "el pibe de oro" or "the golden kid" — who rose from the impoverished barrios of Buenos Aires to become a true international icon.

"He transcended the sport," Jon Smith, a leading British sports agent who represented Maradona between 1986 and 1991, told NBC News.

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Maradona was unquestionably a household name before the 1986 World Cup, but after leading Argentina to the title he became a bonafide global superstar. Murals of Maradona 's face are painted far and wide across the city, some depicting " The Golden Boy" with a shimmering halo.

The Argentine football icon died at his home on Wednesday November 25 after a period of ill health "Diego was Argentina in the world," said Fernandez, paying tribute to the man who helped deliver Maradona 's parents are interred at the cemetery and it is believed he wanted to be buried with them.

"He went to some very dark corners," he added, "but history will be kind to Diego because his talent was so supreme and he never lost that desire to help the unfortunate."

Maradona was buried Thursday having spent the day lying in state at the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. Crowds began lining up at dawn to see his body, some of them becoming unruly when police tried to end the 12-hour visiting period ahead of the wake. Fans threw bottles and rocks, and riot officers responded with rubber bullets, gas and water cannons.

It was a febrile moment during three days of mourning for the nation of 45 million. Tens of thousands of people have already filled the streets, leaving flowers and messages at Maradona's childhood home and former team, Boca Juniors.

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Diego Maradona was a leader, an icon adored and respected by millions. Troubled and blessed in equal Diego Maradona had flair and flaws in equal measure - John Sibley / Reuters (left); Reuters (center) For the rest of Maradona ’s adult life, that story would become a metaphor for his character.

The Argentine-born Pope Francis joined the tributes. And France's L'Équipe newspaper stood out among the world's front pages, its headline declaring: "God is dead."

It's impossible to think of another sportsperson whose death would provoke a similar global response, one befitting a soccer player, a rock star and a religious leader rolled into one. Maradona was revered as a genius who graced what is by far the world's most popular sport. He was also deeply human, a flawed hero who stands in contrast to the athletes who often define the modern game.

Maradona's legend is all the more powerful because he fulfilled something of a storybook prophecy in his country — only for that very success to enable his downfall.

The Maradona myth has its roots in the 1880s, when the British — who held great sway over Argentina — introduced the fledgling South American nation to soccer.

The British tactics relied on "force" and "physical power," but a new Latin-influenced style soon emerged in the country that was "individualistic, undisciplined," "agile and skillful," the Argentine anthropologist Eduardo P. Archetti wrote in a 2001 paper.

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Obituary - Argentina 's flawed football icon . Maradona said that Castro often called him in the mornings to talk about politics and sports and to encourage him in his recovery. "Fidel was like my second father," said Maradona , who last visited Castro three years before he died in 2016.

Global soccer icon Diego Maradona died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at his Buenos Aires home. One of the greatest players of all time, the diminutive forward was captain when Argentina won He earned 91 caps for Argentina and scored 34 goals, and became the coach of the national

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The spirit of the Argentine game revolved around the idea of the "pibe" — a scruffy street kid playing on the cramped, unpaved ground among shantytown buildings, Archetti said. Maradona became the total embodiment of this image, his stocky 5ft 5in frame and lightning skill coupled with rough edges that never smoothed even as he achieved global superstardom.

The zenith of this mythmaking came at the 1986 World Cup, which he won almost single handedly with a string of virtuoso performances. The quarterfinal was against England, just four years after the United Kingdom defeated Argentina in the Falklands War.

Diego Maradona et al. jumping in front of a crowd: Image: Diego Maradona holds up the 1986 World Cup trophy (Carlo Fumagalli / AP) © Carlo Fumagalli Image: Diego Maradona holds up the 1986 World Cup trophy (Carlo Fumagalli / AP)

Maradona had championed his country's claim to the disputed Falkland Islands, or Islas Malvinas. His leftist politics saw him befriend leaders such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro of Cuba, whose face Maradona had tattooed on his body alongside that of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara.

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That Falklands backdrop gave the Argentina-England game a wildly tribal and political edge. It was about much more than soccer when Maradona scored twice, first with his infamous "hand of God" — punching the ball into the net, unnoticed by the referee — and then with perhaps one of the greatest individual goals ever, skipping past half of the England team.

In that moment, with his lonely raid into the English ranks, Maradona was once again that street urchin, encapsulating the Argentine fantasy of a plucky, oppressed underdog getting revenge against a former colonial power, Archetti said.

That catapulted him to a new level of stardom.

It was also "the game that helps destroy his life because it puts him on the level of a god," Tim Vickery, an expert and journalist covering South American soccer, told the Brazilian Shirt Name Podcast on Wednesday. "No one should be put on the level of a god. We're just not built for it, we're human beings — and he certainly wasn't built for it."

Image: Mourners outside the Diego Armando Maradona stadium, in Buenos Aires (Martin Villar / Reuters) © Provided by NBC News Image: Mourners outside the Diego Armando Maradona stadium, in Buenos Aires (Martin Villar / Reuters)

While in Naples between 1984 and 1991, he produced the best football of his career. He also admitted feeling suffocated.

"This is a great city but I can hardly breathe," he said at the time. "I want to be free to walk around. I'm a lad like any other."

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Smith, who wrote the book "The Deal: Inside the World of a Super-Agent," remembers having to get special permission from the city's police for Maradona to run red lights because crazed fans routinely mobbed and dented his collection of Ferraris.

He developed a cocaine habit and his reputation was tarnished by reported links to the city's Camorra crime syndicate. He would go on to fail three drug tests: the first in 1991 that ended his Naples fairytale in disgrace, the last in 1997 signaling the end of his career aged 37.

After retirement, he was given a suspended prison sentence for shooting at journalists with an air rifle. For years he refused to acknowledge he was the father of his son, later becoming estranged to his two daughters. And he was accused of domestic violence.

He had two gastric bypasses after his weight ballooned, and at least one heart attack before the one that killed him at the age of 60. Two weeks earlier he was released from hospital, and straight into an alcohol-recovery clinic, following surgery for a bleed on his brain.

Throughout it all, he rarely shied away from his mistakes. Returning to La Bombonera, Boca Juniors' stadium, to say farewell in 2001, he told the crowd he hoped his errors had not marred his impact on soccer.

"La pelota no se mancha," he told them: The ball does not show the dirt.

Remembering Diego Maradona, a leftie on the field — and in politics .
While Diego Maradona never ran or held public office, his success on the field, larger-than-life personality and friendships with leftist leaders connected him to political life in Argentina and across Latin America over more than three decades. “Fútbol is practically our religion. It’s impossible to separate Argentina from fútbol,” said Patricio Eleisegui, a fan from Argentina who last week visited Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, the site of the 1986 England game. “Maradona was a representation of all our dreams.

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