Born to poverty in Argentina. Showing an early virtuosity only seen once, a generation before, the diminutive striker mesmerized in a manner we would wait another 27 years to see again from a left-footer. And all through his career and life Diego was an entity onto himself, a walking contradiction, an enigma.
During seven years at Napoli, Maradona led the unremarkable team to its greatest glory including two Serie A trophies, a Coppa Italia, and a UEFA Cup. The magician did this without a large supporting cast and certainly with no peer on the team.
Small in size but a giant in heart and effort on the pitch, Diego still holds the record for the most fouled player in a World Cup (1990) with 50 for the tourney.
Few players have dominated a World Cup as he did in 1986, and none have since. Few have scored a more beautiful quadrennial global tournament goal than Maradona’s second against England, and few a more infamous one than his first in the same game.
He had a gifted left foot and an uncanny way of seeing the game. Note, via any highlight reel, the number of offbeat goals, passes, and plays he created, and you will realize that Diego was a raw genius, a unique talent.
A tragic figure for most of the latter half of his life, he still managed to secure his place in the pantheon of the soccer Gods based on what he did in the former half.
With the passage of time admirers and foes alike have coalesced around the simple truth that he was one of the few selected by the gods to do one thing sublimely, to help set a standard of what is possible in our sport.
Hasta siempre, Diego!