December 1, 2003

Diego, between walks along the Great Wall and the unstoppable devotion for Argentina

Marina Zucchi (reporter of Clarín)

      November proved to be a month in which the 'Maradona' name was back to the titles of the main newspapers and media of Argentina, such as in those years when his magic left foot produced news at the speed of wind.

       This time the eyes of the world were witnesses of a Maradona who accomplished the promise he had made to himself: going up the Great Wall of China. But the 'number 10' was also on the news for announcing his separation from his manager Guillermo Cóppola. And if this were not enough, in Argentina there is a new plan to name after him a street of Buenos Aires, although local laws forbid this kind of tributes to people who are still alive.

     'Pelusa' has still got his privileges. Privileges such as being on the front page of the main sport magazine of Argentina (El Gráfico) even if it has been six years since he retired from football fields and 27 years since he first started his professional career as a football player.
      According to the magazine, 'the sign he left in millions of souls is indelible'. And to justify this sentence, just think that 15.000 people are members of the new born 'Iglesia Maradoniana' (='Maradona church'), a group founded by a couple of fans from the city of Rosario which promotes the role of Diego as a 'dios' (='god').
     Although to many it might look bizarre, the idea was supported by international footballers such as Michael Owen.

News of all colours
     After leaving for a few weeks the calm and relaxing atmosphere of Cuba, his new house since three years, China was the chosen country to promote new business. He had already been to China back in 1996 to play a friendly match when he was still playing for Boca and coached by Carlos Bilardo.
     There is no doubt that the trip was not too easy: after a few comebacks and misunderstandings with Chinese managers, the most important thing Diego did was getting at the Badaling towers, walking and then through a cable car. He also enjoyed himself playing golf, his new real passion.

     And the great surprise came out from his own mouth, when he officially said that he was quitting his business with his manager and friend without saying if it was due to commercial or to personal disagreements.

       In the meanwhile, the big question of Boca Juniors fans is to know whether Diego will travel to Japan to attend the match of the Intercontinental Cup that his beloved team will play against AC Milan on the 14th of December. He certainly wants to be there. And his unpredictable decisions are enough to predict a new surprise to come from the person who just some time ago painted with magic the colours of this football shirt.