TheNFAPost Podcast

The unparalleled Argentinian footballer passes away at 60 due to cardiac arrest

Indians, from West Bengal & Kerala, mourn the death of the legend with Midas touch

Avinash Nair

Bengaluru, NFAPost: One may or may not be a football freak…If one is an ‘old timer’ he or she would talk about Pele or Estibio or in case of ‘modern ere’ will rant about Ronaldo n Lionel Messi….. But Diego Maradona is one name that everyone who can spell F.O.O.T.B.A.L.L Will stand -up in awe off.

Well the “mesmerising’ Maradona has trudged on many controversies his dream footballing career..and some which NO pundits or coaches would adhere to…nevertheless with a football at his feet none would dare blink.

He passed away at his home in Tigre after suffering a cardiac arrest. The 60-year-old had earlier had an emergency operation for a subdural hematoma, which is an accumulation of blood between a membrane and his brain. He was, however, released from a Buenos Aires hospital just over a week after undergoing the surgery, and was to continue his recovery in a private home.

He was reportedly staying in a house near his older daughters. He had celebrated his 60th Birthday on October 30 and had showed up that night for Gimnasia’s national championship match against Patronato, which his team won 3-0. He left before the end of the first half, which had raised questions about his health.

The 1986  football World Cup was all Maradona. And some goals that the ‘magician’ from Argentina displayed is still vivid in one’s mind.

The “hand of God’ goal is still debated in world’s footballing circles…but it has to be agreed upon that the ” dazzler” was as deft with his hands as he was with his feet. The infamous ‘Hand of God’ that eliminated England from the 1986 tournament.

Replays showed that Maradona fisted, rather than headed, the ball into the net, a foul the referee missed. The Argentine No. 10 dedicated the goal to the “hand of God.

Identified as an eight year old in his home town Buenos Aires he lived king-size, The ‘icon’ in a legend……Maradona will be missed world over. The Argentine government has announced a three day national mourning.

Tryst with India

Maradona visited the citadel of Indian football Kolkata in 2008 when he met Jyoti Basu at the former chief minister’s home. The chants o “Diego….o” still rings in every Indian’s ears when he visited Kolka during that time as he was idolised wherever he went.

He visited the city again on December 11, 2017. He graced the much-hyped ‘Diego versus Dada’ exhibition match, but he skipped the charity football match — Match for Unity — due to an injury to his right hand. The football frenzied cherish the legendary footballer spending time with school children, who were all seen donning the famous No. 10 jerseys.

Maradona, who had attended a football workshop during his India visit, shook hands with the players and kicked off the match. He stated that he was here for football. “It is a big step, that we take with the minister — to uplift football in India,” Maradona said.

“India really has good players and a football school with boys. Your minister and I must stop this notion that football wants India and India wants football. Together with the minister and the people we will bring a football. I have always been very well received in India. Thanks and kisses!” Maradona added.

Maradona landed in football crazy Kerala in 2012, a land where football legend is venerated along with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

The legend celebrated his 52nd birthday in Kannur, for long considered a nursery of footballers from the state. He even cut a 25kg cake shaped like a football, sang, danced and kicked the ball into the galleries before thousands of hysterical fans who had gathered at Jawahar Stadium.

Sponsored by businessman Boby Chemmanur, Maradona was flown in a chopper from Cochin International Airport to Kannur. The Kozhikode-based gold businessman went on to sign up the soccer legend and launched Boby & Maradona Gold Diamond Jewellery as part of the Chemmanur Group.

Maradona, dressed in a pair of jeans and short-sleeve shirt, made a dream come true for those who managed to catch a glimpse of the man and got a taste of his football skills on that sunny day in Kannur.

Will kick a ball together in heaven: Pele

Brazilian football great Pele told Reuters that he has lost a friend. “Sad news to lose a friend like that. May God give enough strength to his family. For sure, one day we will kick a ball together in heaven,” he said in a statement.

Sharing the iconic photo of Maradona in an Argentina jersey holding up the World Cup, Pele wrote on Twitter that the world lost a legend.

“What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky,” he wrote.

Diego is eternal: Messi

Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, who has referred to Maradona as his idol, referred to this as a very sad day for football.

“A very sad day for all Argentinians and for football. He has left us but he isn’t going anywhere because Diego is eternal. I’ll remember the lovely moments I experienced with him and I send my condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace,” he wrote on Instagram.

Maradona was like a magician: I M Vijayan

All India Football Federation President Praful Patel called Maradona an invaluable gem.

“Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona was like a magician with the ball at his feet. Football has lost an invaluable gem today. His glorious legacy will forever have a place in football history. Rest in peace,” he tweeted.

One of Indian football’s greatest names I.M. Vijayan posted a short message on his Twitter handle. “RIP God of football,” he said.

My hero no more: Saurav Ganguly

“My hero no more ..my mad genius rest in peace ..I watched football for you,” former India captain and BCCI president Saurav Ganguly, who has always termed the Argentine genius as his first sporting hero, tweeted.

Ganguly had played with Maradona in a charity match when the icon came to Kolkata in 2017.

Batting great Sachin Tendulkar added, “Football and the world of sports has lost one of its greatest players today. Rest in Peace Diego Maradona! You shall be missed.”

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