Being Diego Maradona

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Being Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona with Messi at the Camp Nou

What’s that movie, ‘Being John Malkovich’, how about ‘Being Diego Maradona’? Imagine being able to live inside Maradona’s head during the 1986 World Cup, when he dribbled through the entire English soccer team with ease. It’s still perhaps the greatest goal ever scored in the World Cup…

 

And what a flick it would be, could you imagine experiencing his Hand of God days and winning the World Cup, to the coke binges and discos, to the high life at Napoli, Barcelona, and Sevilla, his scintillating time as world’s greatest footballer, to his days visiting Fidel Castro and rehabbing in Cuba. What a life he’s led? Maybe you’d skip some of that…

And now, to the present, still looking full of energy and spry, as the current coach of the Argentine national team with Messi at his side. Couldn’t he have setup his daughter with Messi instead of Sergio Aguero? Doesn’t really matter, the kid’s going to have some incredible genes, but anyway, back to the potential Being Maradona movie.

What got me thinking about this was seeing Messi sitting next to Diego at the Camp Nou, as Barcelona played Real Mallorca. Messi had flown back from his vacation time in Argentina late; he’d spent an extra few days with his family when a strike delayed his return even further, so he arrived late and was in the stands for the match instead of on the pitch.

Coach, Pep Guardiola, however, was neither perturbed by the extended holidays nor the late return: “I’m fine with him taking a longer holiday, because for him, his family is vital."

“He is a 21-year-old boy who needs to be with his loved ones but when he returned, there were some problems with his flight because only two landing strips at Barajas was opened."

Perhaps they were just resting the little legend though, as they have a Copa del Rey mid-week match against Atlético Madrid. And Barcelona still won, even after conceding an early goal, with Henry smacking home the tying goal. Then Iniesta is back too, and he looked sharp and scored the second, with Yaya Toure deftly knocking home the third. Iniesta back? As though they needed another dribbling maestro.

But seeing Maradona shaking hands with Laporta and Cruyff as he made his way to a prime seat near what must have been midfield, and then seeing Messi sit next to him for a time, Maradona’s big puffy coat worthy of the Seinfeld episode, who wouldn’t want to see what Maradona sees, experience what Maradona experiences.

Hey Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, what do you think? Messi looked almost giddy seating next to his idol. The words that are probably flying out of Maradona’s mouth; how can he watch any match without some frustration. What is he seeing when he watches a game?

There was a play where Iniesta, although not rusty in the least, he probably would have pulled it off if he was fully fit, tried to control a high ball before a defender closed in and lost it. It was one of those plays were a high ball is partly in the defensive third and partly near midfield, and he was trying to control the ball and turn at the same time – pull the ball back with the top of the foot and be on his way. It would have been smooth if he’d pulled it off but also was well within Iniesta’s sphere of abilities. What does Maradona say? ‘Come on, I could do that, even now.’

Actually, I’m sure Maradona is a gracious and humble man these days. He’s been too close to death, overcome too much. Now I’d think he just wants to enjoy football and his life.

I’d still want to see what he sees and think what he thinks while he watches a game or coaches a game.

Or, are we all just being dupped by Maradona. Is he really ‘Being Lionel Messi’ all this time? Is he now inside Messi’s head, running things. That would explain the imitation maze run and the Hand of Messi. Either way though, I’m very happy to watch both these geniuses. Do they win the World Cup in South Africa together?

That’s a movie ending they’d like to see and I’d like to enjoy from inside either of their heads.

 

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