Diego, our idol !


I vote for the Hand of God. For his great magic in the joy of a goal. Of a fantastic play. Of that unforgettable evening, with the unstoppable left foot in the English field. That indescribable happiness born in the poor fields of Villa Fiorito. The greatest expression of football. Of the ball attached to his foot. Of those nights of hunger, embracing a ruined ball. His only friend.

I vote for that small devil, alchemist of football in the nights of the old stadium at Juan Agustín García and Boyacá in the poor quarter of La Paternal. Home of illusions for Diego Armando Maradona, the poet of the left foot. The meeting place for the people after the nights of tango in Buenos Aires, and for the poor people of Fiorito. Of a brilliancy conquered in the fields of loam, among the fences of "mate cocido", pure innocence. It is the majesty of his prodigious left foot, which draws in every metre of the opponent field, which plays and caresses the ball with the art of this small giant, which inebriates the senses, like the hardest liquor of the night of Buenos Aires in the heart of La Boca. Juggler of endless nights of glory, Maradona, indefatigable warrior.

His left foot invokes the gods, twists in the air looking for the goal, the highest expression of joy, the prize for the hard work. His fist in the air challenges the wind drawing the face of Chitoro and La Tota (his parents) in the top of the pride.

The eyes become red and a tear comes out, when he makes a magic in the eternal stadium of La Paternal. That little boy with black curly hair, who charms, entertains and caresses the ball with a skill without equal. Never seen before. It's football. The one that you live in the stadium of Boca, or in the pigsties of Parque Patricios. Strength, sweat and tears. Which come out for the spectacle of the ball running with class between the feet of this artist who caresses it with love and with the grace of a dancer. A long love story.

I thank my life, as Violeta Parra used to sing, for seeing football, the real football. The show that generates so much passion and makes you tremble like the most fanatic supporter, the show of an unbelievable backheel, of a goal with a bicycle kick with 80,000 people in the stadium. This is the football I love, the football of Diego Armando Maradona, the sportsman of the century. Awarded for his innumerable exploits of sports, for his goal against England, for the third goal against the Soviet Union in the youth world cup of 1979, for that prize that he gained in 1986, in the world cup where he was crowned with all his magic. For his eternal wedding with the ball, the poor one of the loams of Fiorito, cradle of his youth. And the one of the glory in Europe. And of all the places where he showed his magic skill. The "fat", as he called the ball in his childhood dreams, has always been his companion. Friend, confidante, girlfriend and sister, tireless symbol of his fight for the south of Italy. The king of Naples.

On October 30, 1960, in a cold room of the hospital of Lanús, Dalma Maradona Franco, better known as Tota, gave birth to the fantastic 10. On October 20, 1976 the world of football gave birth to him in the Argentine championship, wearing the colours of Argentinos Juniors, his first team. From that day the history of football will suddenly change. Pelé's throne of king will tremble. The ambassador was born. And it is Maradona, the little god of the small Villa Fiorito. The soul of football. I vote for him!

RODRIGO BENAVIDES -- www.reporte.cl

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