U.S.A. 1994

U.S.A. 1994

The 1994 World Cup was for Maradona the last chance to show his skill to the world and to lead Argentina to win their third world cup. His years from 1990 to 1994 were not so beautiful: he was banned for drugs in the Italian Championship after the match Napoli-Bari in March 1991. Then he played in Sevilla (Spain) and in Argentina, but he was preparing the World Cup. His thought always went to that tournament: he wanted to finish his extraordinary career with some "fireworks", he wanted to lead Argentina to win the title.

Argentina was in group D with Bulgaria, Nigeria and Greece. The first match was against Greece: Argentina won 4-0 and Diego scored a beautiful goal, shooting from just outside the penalty area scoring under the cross bar. His goal was a joy for every fan of soccer: he deserved it, and everybody in Naples was really happy for his goal. Who can ever forget his run towards the camera, his scream to the whole world, like to say "Here I am! I'm still the number one!". Well, his match against Greece was incredible: it seemed as he was still the best Maradona.

The second match of hist team was against Nigeria, a very strong team which had defeated in the first match Hristo Stoichkov's Bulgaria 3-0 with an impressive soccer. Argentina played against Nigeria and won 2-1: after the goal by Siasia for Nigeria, Argentina equalized and won the match with Claudio Caniggia and Diego was the "man of the match" with Caniggia. He made an incredible assist for Argentina's goal, passing the ball to a teammate instead of shooting straight to the net. He was 34 now, but his skill was still pure. He was the leader of the team: Argentina won two straight matches and "El pibe de oro" was the prime actor in both the matches. Now Argentina was one of the favourite teams for the final victory.

But suddenly things got worse. Maradona was found "positive" after a drug test and he was banned by FIFA: some "ephedrine" was found and Diego was suspended from the tournament. This was a sad day for Maradona and, most of all, for the world of soccer. Such a great champion finished his extraordinary career with a bad end: I can never forget the tears from Diego's eyes. This was the worst day in his life. I can't say if he's innocent or guilty, but one thing is sure, ephedrine is not a real drug. Somebody said that FIFA wanted him in World Cup to attract people and the world's interest on the tournament, which for the USA didn't mean anything at all, but then they disqualified him from the World Cup, because FIFA never liked Diego too much.

It's a sad finish for the best player in the world ever, and his team, after this event, lost 0-2 to Bulgaria. Argentina qualified to the 2nd round, but then lost 2-3 to Romania, under Maradona's eyes. The whole Argentine team was shocked by Maradona's suspension and then was not able to focus on the match, since their thoughts always went back to Diego.

However, he played 21 matches in 4 World Cups. He was the world's number one for many years, but Argentina-Nigeria was the last time he played as a great champion.
But in my eyes there will always be Maradona's face when he kisses the World Cup in 1986, his "Hand of God" goal against England and the wonderful slalom among 5 opponents and the goalkeeper in the same match. Thank you, Diego: you are the best.

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