25 Nov 2021, 08:53

Maradona is dead, long live Maradona! World honors 'Golden Kid'

  BUENOS AIRES, Nov 25, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The world will on Thursday mark the
one-year anniversary of the death of Diego Maradona, regarded by some as the
best player of all time and a man adored in his home country Argentina
despite, or perhaps because of, his human flaws.

  Argentine club matches are to mark a minute of silence and players will
arrange themselves in a "10" formation on the pitch to honor Maradona's
famous jersey number, while special masses will be held -- including in the
Buenos Aires slum where Maradona grew up, to mark the day he passed away.

  In Naples, where he spent part of his career, two statues for the striker
are set to be unveiled.

  "We'll miss you for the rest of our lives," said the Argentine Football
League in homage on the eve of the anniversary, with a video of the life,
goals, and many trophies of the man nicknamed "Pibe de Oro" (Golden Kid).

  Maradona died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, weeks after
undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.

  The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star had battled cocaine and
alcohol addictions for years, and was suffering from liver, kidney and
cardiovascular disorders when he died.

  His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands queued to
file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential
palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.

  He may be dead, but in Argentina Maradona is everywhere.

  From ubiquitous mural frescos that portray him as a deity to television
series about his life and even a religion bearing his name.

  His two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, which saw Argentina
triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made Maradona
an instant hero.

  - 'Hand of God' -

  His rags-to-riches story, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life
and dramatic death entrenched his place in the Argentine psyche.

  In the cities, Maradona's name is memorialized in countless graffiti:
"Diego lives," "10 Eternal" and "D10S" -- a play of words with the Spanish
word for god, "Dios", and Maradona's famous jersey number.

  Murals in Buenos Aires depict him with angel wings, as a patron saint
complete with halo and scepter, or back here on Earth, kissing the World Cup.

  Maradona is perhaps remembered as much for his "Hand of God" goal -- which
illegally came off his hand in what he ascribed to supernatural intervention
-- as for his second in the same match against England which would later
become known as the "Goal of the Century".

  These extremes -- "a virtuous goal and a sinful goal" that also reflected
Maradona's conflicted life of virtue and vice -- help explain people's
fascination him, according to Latin American columnist Eduardo Galeano.

  The "Hand of God" goal, he said, transformed Maradona "into a sort of
tarnished God; the most human of Gods".

  For historian Felipe Pigna, Maradona is "a hero with many imperfections" --
a mixed bag of qualities that reflects "what it means to be Argentinian".

  - 'Creator of happiness' -

  An investigation into the star's death was opened following a complaint
filed by two of Maradona's five children against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque,
whom they blame for their father's deteriorating condition after surgery.

  A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina's public prosecutor
concluded in April that Maradona's treatment was rife with "deficiencies and
irregularities" and said his medical team had left his survival "to fate".

  The case is closely followed by a nation transfixed, competing for headline
space with the court case of an inheritance dispute involving two of
Maradona's daughters.

  Adding to the floor-to-floor news coverage, this week, a Cuban woman who
had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago, accused him and his
entourage of abuse, including rape.

  Maradona's second daughter Dalma, 34, has said she will not participate in
any of the commemoration events Thursday for what she described as "the worst
day of my life".

  "A year after his death, Diego, a creator of happiness, continues also to
cause suffering," the Argentine daily La Nacion said this week.

  "Through the sadness over his death, because we loved him so much. And
through the evidence of his self-destruction. The great contradiction between
public happiness and private suffering."

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