If you were at the Kolkata Airport the day Maradonna arrived in the City, you could be forgiven for having thought that India had just won some World Cup that you didn’t know of and the team had just landed. It would be an understatement to say that there was madness all around as just about the whole state had come to welcome “The God of the Football World”. The media was in a frenzy, and the talk all around was that this could be a catalyst for the growth of the game in the country. But, why are we so fond of Maradonna, the same Maradonna who showed that he is anything but a “God” over and over again with the failed drug tests?
To be honest Maradonna’s popularity is more of a creation of the press. It is a classic example of an advertisement where the people are told over and over again that this thing is better than the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one moment saying that Maradonna wasn’t a great player. But on what scale do you measure greatness to define who was the best player to have played the game? Loads of players have had their moments, why not give them equal credit? Why instead make a “God” out of a brilliant but clearly human drug addict?
Maradonna was definitely a great football player, there is no arguing that, but he was not a sportsman. If his second goal against England in the Semi-Final of the 1986 World Cup was the Best Ever World Cup Goal, his first was the Worst Sporting Moment of the World Cups. Do I even need to mention his drug addiction problem? Testing positive once may be something that the fans can forgive him for once, but when he tested positive again, having earlier apologized for his first mistake, it was a betrayal of his fans’ trust, the same fans who made him what he was – The God of the Football World.
There are actually quite a few players whose achievements can rival, if not better, Maradonna’s, yet we don’t usually speak of them as legends of the caliber of him. A prime example can be taken from Paolo Maldini’s image. He has won just about anything there is to win, played for one club for some twenty five years, and at all times was one of the best ambassadors of the game. But, being a defender, he has never gotten the due attention he deserves.
Maybe Maradonna was just destined to be called “God”. Maybe fortune just smiled upon him and he lapped everything up. But, personally, I hope the next generation of upcoming stars learn from his mistakes. Nobody would like to see the person they loved and idolized fall the way he did.
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