The name Diego Maradona ignites feelings in every football fan on the planet.
Whether it’s hated from the English for his ‘Hand of God’ moment at the World Cup 1986 or admiration from nearly every other country, Maradona transcends the world of football into celebrity, glamour, drugs, fashion, a relationship with the mafia and ultimately a life well lived.
The new Diego Maradona film focuses on the great man’s seven year spell at Napoli and how he went from the world’s most expensive player, to a demi-god in Naples to an exit shrowded in ignominy and controversy, here are five incredible moments you have to see.
1 The chants in Serie A were absolutely savage in the 1980s
There is a big north-south rivalry in Italy and almost every other club detested Napoli.
After Maradona left Barcelona to move to Naples the banners and songs from the big clubs in the north – Juventus and the Milan teams – were so offensive they might not get away with them these days.
Napoli were derided as a club with fans that were dirty and due to their supposed lack of a clean water supply also colloquially known as the ‘Cholerasi’, the cholera sufferers.
In one of Maradona’s first Serie A games the Juventus fans were ferociously chanting ‘wash them, wash them with fire’ in reference both to Napolitans not showering and the city being destoryed by Mount Vesuvius. Spicy.
2 How Maradona reached god like status at the World Cup 1986
After inspiring Napoli to their first ever Italian league title Maradona approached the World Cup 1986 as the man ready to take the tournament by storm.
The film shows all the glorious moments as he captained his side to World Cup glory and eternal fame across the world.
Of course there is a focus on both goals against England in the quarter final, each equally memorable for vastly different reasons, one the most brazen example of cheating we’ve ever seen, the second an unbelievable level of skill in scoring one of the World Cup’s greatest goals.
But, while England fans pretty much deleted everything in their memories after that game, Maradona went onto score twice in the semi-final, provide the crucial assist for Argentina’s winning goal in the final, be named player of the tournament and become the most in-demand footballer in the world.
It was the birth of the Maradona we all know, but not necessarily for all the right reasons…
3 Maradona had SERIOUS stamina when it came to partying
Take your wildest mate, the one that is always keen for a session, times his energy for the lash by 10 and you might have something close to what Maradona considered a Monday night.
Rightly held as one of the greatest to ever play football, Maradona also has a reputation as one of the game’s great party boys.
Have achieved pretty much everything at Napoli, Maradona had asked to be sold and had his request denied.
Following the World Cup 1990 Maradona was in the crux of a cocaine addiciton that ruled nearly all his life other than playing matches on Sunday.
In the film Maradona reveals that he would go out after the game on Sunday and spend the next four nights visiting strip clubs and getting ON IT, until settling down on Wednesday to cleanse for the following Sunday’s game.
The man had absolute minerals.
4 “I arrived to 85,000 people chanting my name, I left alone.”
Maradona had achieved god-like status in Naples from his efforts on the pitch, men, women and children adored their adopted Argetinian saviour.
He arrived from Barcelona to amazing fanfare, with thousands of fans filling the stadium to watch him do a few kick-ups and wave to the crowd.
But in 1991 his fall from grace was sudden and sharp after he tested positive for traces of cocaine after a match.
He was handed a 15-month ban from football by the Italian federation, the longest ban of its type at the time, and it spelled the end of Maradona’s love affair with Naples.
Instead of fulfilling his contract Maradona announced his retirement from football and returned to Argentina only to be arrested for possession of the drug in his homeland.
Images of Italian front pages stream across the screen as Maradona’s previous crown as the king of Naples is torn from him.
There is a poignant quote from the man himself on his downfall, “I arrived to 85,000 people chanting my name but I left alone.”
5 The beautiful moment Maradona finally recognised his estranged son 30 years later
In the film we see clips from a young Italian woman called Cristina Sinagra who claims to have had a child from an affair with Maradona during his time at Naples.
However, with Maradona shacked up with his girlfriend Clauda Villafane, he denies any knowledge of Sinagra or that the lovechild could be his.
This saga fades into the background through his time in Italy but in a real moment familial warmth from Maradona 30 years later he finally recognises Diego Armando Maradona Jr. as his legal son.
The clips show Maradona Sr. meeting his son at the door and sharing a sweet moment as they share a hug and a kiss.
Better late than never I guess.
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