The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

TMID Editorial: The lessons we can learn from Diego Maradona

Saturday, 28 November 2020, 07:55 Last update: about 3 months ago

This week saw the passing of one of football’s greatest players in Diego Armando Maradona.

Maradona died on Wednesday from a heart attack, passing away at the age of 60 years old.  He has left the world of football – not least his native Argentina and the Italian city of Naples, where he is regarded as something of a God to the football-mad citizens there – in mourning.

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That he is, and always will be, a footballing legend is beyond doubt.  He will never be forgotten for leading his country to World Cup victory, for his Hand of God goal against England, and for the goal after that to give Argentina the win – a goal which was voted as the best of the 20th century.  He will never be forgotten in Naples, where he led Italy’s poorest city to league title glory for the first time.

Argentina in fact announced a three-day period of mourning for Maradona, while Napoli immediately said that their stadium – the Stadio San Paolo – will be henceforth named after Maradona.

However, underneath the footballing façade, lay a man troubled by controversy and by addiction. His addiction to drugs in particular is well documented, not least because it eventually resulted in his career on the pitch petering out: he left Napoli after a 15-month drug ban, and his career with the Argentinian national team ended after he failed a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup.

He also had a son while he was playing with Napoli in Italy – a son he only recognised and met many years later in 2003.

His life story teaches us about the effects drugs can have on a person: how drugs can affect and ultimately bring down even the greatest, and how addiction can become a plague on the human being.

More so, however, it teaches us that even the biggest geniuses – those regarded as legends, idols, as Gods even – have vulnerabilities.  It shows that they too need support – be it visible or invisible.

This is especially significant in today’s world, where through social media public image has become more important in society than ever.  We are presented day in, day out, with sanitised versions of people’s lives which lead people to want and desire the ‘perfect life’ which in truth is not attainable even by those who are presenting their lives under the guise that they are perfect.

What we can present day in, day out however is support – support which Maradona maybe did not get enough of in his lifetime.

This is where the lesson lies: let us support one another, irrespective of their genius, or their status, or what their life may seem to be from the outside.  We are ultimately all human, and it’s good sometimes to remember that.

 

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