Diego Armando Maradona, who passed away on Wednesday, turned sixty, is a minor miracle. Press asked Maradona adept Bart Vlietstra three weeks before his death (in the run-up to the sixtieth birthday of the football icon) what made the little Argentinian so popular – in the Netherlands in particular.
A hero, despite everything
Pelé turned eighty at the end of October. A good time to honor the best man and – let’s face it – best football player.
Yes, of course Edson Arantes do Nascimento is the best. He is the most complete and successful footballer ever with three World Cups won. Otherwise, just ask Piet de Visser, master scout of master scouts for 77 years. If Piet says so, it is true.
And yet the Pelé films, photos and serenades in the Netherlands were fairly quickly replaced by described and filmed memories of Maradona, whose sixtieth birthday (October 30, 2020) took just under a week to come.
A video showing how Maradona in the rain on a muddy field in a smeared Napoli outfit is finishing a training, was the Dutch tweet with the most likes of October 26.
Maradona is cheerful, playful and works balls into the goal in every way possible. He teases the increasingly angry goalkeeper, but finally gives him a hug.
It’s exactly how you want to see Maradona.
(For the app users who don’t see a video: tap the tweet and you’ll see it.)
That tweet was posted by SANTOS, the football culture platform that was founded five years ago by a number of enthusiasts, including the undersigned. The Maradona of today can still rave so much, there can still be so many videos of a grubby ‘El Diez’ tapping away shots in an airplane at a pace at which he passed English footballers 34 years ago and he can still wear such bizarre corona masks ; he remains our hero. Point.
On the cover of the very first SANTOSmagazine thus featured Maradona in full soccer ornament. We hadn’t discussed it for a second, even though there was no current reason for it at the time. In fact, it was an extremely Maradona-lean period.
SANTOS was still a trial at the time, a test balloon. If that first song would work, we would continue. Our fate is in the hands of a now bullet-round, journalist-hating, drug-loving Argentinian, waving middle fingers.