Maradona, the football god on skin

A lot of people, all around the world, wear a Dieguito tattoo. This is the story of how a little Argentinian become an astonishing player, maybe the best of all.

If you really want to understand the Maradona-phenomenon we have to start from a cinematographic event. More specifically from a docu-film, ‘Maradona By Kusturica’ by the Bosnian film director Emir Kusturica, In the movie, released in 2008, there is an amazing scene that gives you the goose bumps. There is Manu Chao, the famous globalist songwriter who leaning against a wall, starts singing a song called ‘La Vida Tòmbola’; and right in front of the former Mano Negra here comes Dieguito in person, who listens to him half touched by his song and half dreamy.

Alex De Pase, Off The Map Tattoo, Cervignano Del Friuli, Italy
Alex De Pase, Off The Map Tattoo, Cervignano Del Friuli, Italy

Well, during that short performance, we think Maradona re-experienced his life again starting from his childhood, very poor in the Villa Fiorito neighborhood (Buenos Aires) marked by hunger. Metaphorically speaking, “hunger” combined with an amazing talent and a passion for football, really makes you go beyond your limits.

Briefly, the young Maradona is a rising star and it’s not long before the football world notices him. At 15 he played with the Argentinos Juniors, he won the World Junior Cup in 1979 with Argentina, he then moved to Boca Juniors (28 goals!) and then of course the European adventure started. Diego, though doesn’t hit it off with the right foot in Barcelona (where he starts hanging out with the wrong crowd, living more like a movie star than an athlete) and he is even injured by the Basque player Andoni Goikoetxea (he will permanently lose 30% mobility of his ankle).

No worries: in the summer of 1984, after several problems, he joined Napoli where he will become the “God” of an entire city. In Naples Diego wins everything (two Italian Championships, the Uefa Cup and several other titles) and during this period he played the best World Cup out of the four he played: Mexico ’86 (with that incredible goal against England and then another one, the “goal of the century” directly from mid field) and the final won against West Germany (3-2) after a nerve-breaking match.

The football world is at his feet but after another World Cup (Italia ’90, with Selecciòn once again in the final match but here beat by Germany 1-0) and the same football-God will take everything back and with interests: disqualified for doping in 1991, started playing again not very successfully in Seville and with Newell’s Old Boys, an incredible return with the World Cup USA ’94 (with an amazing goal against Greece) and final fall after another disqualification for the use of ephedrine (“I use it to lose weight not to play better!”, Diego defended himself but it was useless).

The football career came to an end and now Maradona must learn to manage, perhaps for the first time, that thing called “life” and that so far has looked more like a “lottery”. But in the next ten years the appearances will be more political (for example: stays in Cuba with his friend Fidel Castro) and news on his rehab for drugs and alcohol abuse will get him on the front pages of newspapers. Until Diego gets up, becomes the trainer of Argentina and brings his national team to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They played well, even though they lost 4-0 in quarters against Germany (again). As writer Osvaldo Soriano once said, “Diego is a man of other times. For example, I met him just once and I can say that Maradona exists for the glory of God.”

Giorgio Landi, Left Hand Tattoo, Rome, Italy
Giorgio Landi, Left Hand Tattoo, Rome, Italy