A World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina has been suspended in farcical circumstances on Sunday.
Diego Armando Maradona, who sadly passed away aged 60 from a heart attack, will always be remembered for his genius on the field.
Maradona has been described as an artist whose skill with a football was something truly special as he produced some of the most memorable football moments ever, including that individual goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
Maradona grew up poor and was raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, which would shape his character during his football career.
Football would define Maradona from the time he made his Argentinian Primera Division debut ten days before his 16th birthday for Argentinos Juniors against Talleres de Cordoba.
This was the beginning of a football journey that would see Maradona become the greatest footballer of all time: a title he has shared with Brazilian legend Pele.
His footballing feats included leading Napoli to two Scudetto titles as well as leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup, which cemented his legendary status.
Maradona epitomised the true beauty of the world game through his magical left foot, which seemed to at times cast a spell over the football. His imagination and ability to entertain influenced a generation. His turns and flicks were copied and practiced by youngsters as they dreamed of replicating even just some of the awe-inspiring skill Maradona brought to the beautiful game.
Maradona’s greatness on the field was also punctuated by off-field demons, including drugs and a lifestyle that in the end saw his life cut far too short. However, this added to the Maradona story and in some ways made him the very footballer he was: a street urchin who became a footballer and icon in the same breath as Pablo Picasso and Ludwig van Beethoven where their individual artistry will never be replicated.
The tributes that have flowed in since his death have emphasised his impact on the footballing community. Argentinian prime minister Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning in Argentina.
“You took us to the highest point in the world, and made us immensely happy,” he tweeted.
“You were the greatest of all. Thank you for being you, Diego we will miss you for the rest of our lives.”
Through his life, Maradona’s passion for the round ball never diminished, even after his playing career when he managed Argentina and guided them to a quarter-final at the 2010 World Cup. His flaws, which were attacked and exploited by a voracious media, never diminished the love that many Argentines felt for him.
His poor and underprivileged upbringing made him the talisman who conquered the world. As former teammate Jorge Valdano explained: “Maradona offered to the Argentinians a way out of their collective frustration, and that’s why people love him.”
Maradona is more than a footballer. He is an icon and his legacy and passion will live on even after his sad passing. The country of Argentina as well as the city of Naples, which reveres him as a god, will not forget the incredible happiness and success he brought both through the national jersey of Argentina and club jersey of Napoli.
“Maradona is a god to the people of Naples,” said Italy legend and Neapolitan Fabio Cannavaro. “Maradona changed history… to live those years with Maradona was incredible.”
This intense pressure and god-like status contributed to Maradona’s struggles off the field but also cemented his name in history. There will never be another Maradona. It is a sad loss for football but Maradona’s greatness and contribution to football will never be forgotten.