Maradona, The True Iconoclast!!!

A little over a decade ago, I stumbled upon this raspy angelic voice as I was aimlessly surfing the net. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. Amy Winehouse was her name, and I had no reason to know who she was as I exclusively sought and listened to Sufi music. The next day , I decided to poll my students about who she was. They all liked her music but were perplexed by why would I, a bearded Muslim man, be so impressed with Miss Winehouse. She was a troubled young woman endowed with incredible vocal pipes. I made a random prediction that day: Amy’s days on this earth will be numbered. My students looked even more mystified at what sounded like an outlandish prophecy. I observed that untimely death seems to be the ultimate fate of those who are just a superior cut above the rest. Michael Jackson had exited this world in the same fashion and now Maradona just pushed his last breath shocking even those who didn’t care much for soccer.

I am from the generation that watched Maradona in 1982 and couldn’t wait for the 1986 World Cup competition to roll around. Maradona didn’t disappoint. Maradona stood in the league of his own. The fact that he was the greatest to ever touch a soccer ball is only half of the story. I wouldn’t be hyperbolizing when I say that the man changed the course of history. Maradona shared shortcomings of average humans. His fame and fortune made him susceptible to troubles that often curse the famous and the inconceivably talented, except for Muhammed Ali. Despite Ali’s fame, wealth did and talent, he lived a balanced life and knew how to handle the status of a mega star.

Maradona had his run ins with the law but he always managed to stand on the right side of history. He spoke truth to power and spoke out against social and economic disparities. Maradona called Pope John Paul‘s’ bluff “kissing poor children on a full belly”. Maradona couldn’t stand the sight of opulent churches with golden ceilings. Maradona had a simple solution to remedy poverty: “Sell the lavishly decorated houses of worship and feed the poor”

When it comes to soccer, Maradona had no peers and it would really be an insult to compare him to other players. He carried teams by himself. He was a one man show in a team sport. What he did for Napoli was beyond mythical. But it was not only his talent that had him gain a cult like following. Soccer was just a conduit to name recognition. Maradona brought victory not only to Napoli as a team but he brought respect to a neglected and downtrodden south of Italy.

The feeling of Euphoria to watch England’s embarrassing defeat to Argentina didn’t stem out of people’s natural propensity to root for the underdog. It was more like watching Imperialism being brought to its knees. Despite our very young age and scant understanding of political psychology, watching England getting beat was nothing short of divine intervention. Maradona commented that it was the hand of God and we saw it as a celestial evening up of the score with sovereignty dispute over the Falklands Islands. We Watched a smug hegemon get smacked around by a short chubby man with a heart of gold and unrivaled foot skills. I don’t think there will ever be a match to what Maradona fundamentally represented. He was the embodiment of pure genius, empathy for those who shared his humble beginnings, and an aversion to the pervasive economic disparities ravaging our world.