Maradona… oh… Maradona
¨Maradona…oh…Maradona… with the fire in your belly and strength in your nerves .. you will come back to succeed¨. This was the Bengali song of Mokam band with which Maradona was welcomed in Kolkata in December 2008. The god-denying ideologues and men of dialectical materialism of Kolkatta made exception and worshipped and treated him as a god. Overwhelmed by the ovation, Maradona said, ¨ I thought there were no more surprises left in my life but my visit to Kolkata has changed that".
Maradona is, of course, god to some diehard Argentine fans who have set up a Church of Maradona, with its own Ten Commandments and tens of thousands of international followers. He is worshipped as D10S, which combines his shirt number ten and Dios, which means God in Spanish. The autobiography of Maradona is the Bible. Those who helped him are apostles and his adversaries are heretics. Having gone through glorification, crucification and resurrection, Maradona´s story fits the legendary requirements for a new religion!
The Argentine team is packed with more stars than any other team. But it is a Maradona team. He is not just yet another coach. El Diego is the man in the spotlight. His leaps of joy and slumps of sadness like a Tango dancer outside the touch-line is as much watched as the game of the players.
While Maradona has the feet of magic and the ¨Hand of God¨, his mouth is known for verbal shots and colourful vocabulary. He said,¨ Only Dalma and Gianina are my legitimate children. The others are children born out of money or mistake¨. About the strikers who get the ball near the goal area but fail to put it in, he says it is like dancing with a sister.
His autobiography (published in 2004) is like a canvass of his emotion and passion. The book is like the history of Argentina itself. Both the man and the country had seen memorable days of glory and forgettable times of infamy. Boom and bust… ups and downs..
His story of rise from poverty to fame is like that of Evita, the goddess of Argentine masses. At the age of ten, he was spotted by a talent scout who got him into the junior team of Argentinos Juniors. As a twelve year old ball boy, he amused spectators by showing his wizardry with the ball during the halftime intermissions of first division games. From there he rose to become one of the greatest footballers.
Maradona´s moment of glory was the 1986 world cup and his Goal of the Century. From that peak, he plunged into ignominious bottom with drugs and scandals. He was banned from playing for fifteen months. He came back and joined the world cup team in 1994 and scored a great goal against Greece. But thereafter he was sent back in disgrace after failing the dope test. Then he got into serious problems of drug addiction, became massively overweight and suffered serious health problems. After near death scare, he was admitted to a rehabilitation centre in Cuba where he recovered. He came back and reinvented himself as a TV host and in 2008 became the coach of the Argentine team.
Will this man of miraculous resurrection inspire their team to overcome the supersonic Luftwaffe of the Germans on saturday and to win the world cup on 11 July? Asking such a question is heresy in the Church of Maradona.