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DIEGO MARADONA - THE FOOTBALLER OF THE MASSES


by published


"Diego, getting past two opponents (read capitalists), running down the right hand side, cutting inside, a nice one-two with a fellow teammate (read communist), one on one with the keeper, and he scores, Diego scores, Argentina has scored, the masses have scored!"

Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine football legend, born in 1960 in Lanus, Buenos Aires was the fifth child of a poor, working class family. His father was a worker in a small factory, and he had seen and witnessed poverty in his early life. And over the decades, he went on attacking and breaking the defensive line of US capitalism, and defending the less privileged with his firm support of the Latin American Communism.

A staunch believer of the works of the legendary revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, Diego was fighting for the proletariat for their justice all over the globe. He even had Che’s tattoo on his left arm, and another legendary Communist leader, Fidel Castro on one of his legs, with which, he kept on scoring goals for his country, and for his clubs Boca Juniors, Napoli and Barcelona.

In 1987, Diego went to visit Cuba. It was just after he had won the FIFA World Cup with Argentina, and there, he met his Communist compatriot Fidel Castro, and hence began his friendship with the great Comandante. Fidel was one of his heroes. He said to the press – “They say that he started with twelve men and three rifles in the Sierra Maestra and now I realise why he won. He has an iron conviction. Fidel Castro is a personality impossible to forget.” Fidel’s political charisma left a strong impact on Diego, and he became a very frequent visitor to Cuba from then on.

Later in 2005, Diego interviewed Fidel on the latter’s TV show which was conducted in Havana, where Diego expressed his feelings about USA and the then President of USA, George Bush and about his visit to Latin America. He said – “I think Bush is a murderer. I am going to head the march against him on stepping the foot in Argentine soil.” And Diego indeed kept his word. In November 2005, Diego joined a huge anti-imperialist campaign against the US in Mar der Plata where the American summit was taking place. He wore a T-shirt on which it was printed “Stop Bush” with the letter “S” in "Bush" written as the Nazi Swastika sign.

Diego had a lot of respect for Fidel. In 2014, he said – “I felt a great pride inside, he would call me on the phone at 2 in the morning, and we would talk about football and a lot of other things. We talked about politics too and he taught me a lot. He is a man who slept only for four hours a day and worked the entire day. Fidel taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know and he taught me better than anyone.” The demise of the great Cuban leader in November 2016 left a strong impact on Diego. He told to the press – “I wept uncontrollably. He was like a father to me. He opened the doors to Cuba for me when Argentina was closing them.” He went on to attend the funeral of Comandante, whom he considered to be his “second father”.

Not only in Cuba, but Diego was also a frequent visitor in Venezuela, and had huge belief in the Bolivarian process in that country. He was also a huge admirer of the great Venezuelan Communist leader Hugo Chavez. He visited Venezuela several times. In 2007, Diego appeared on Chavez’s weekly TV show where he openly said – “I believe in Chavez. I am Chavista, Everything Fidel does, everything Chavez does, is the best that can be done for me.” He denounced the US hostility against Cuba at that time and he also added “I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength.”

Diego went to attend Chavez’s funeral, where he said “What Hugo left me, was a great friendship, an incredible political wisdom. Hugo Chavez changed the way Latin America thinks. We were bowed to the United States and he showed us that we can walk by ourselves.” It was there where he established a great friendship with the then President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

He had strong belief in the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, and being a political proponent of Maduro, Diego said these words during a visit to Caracas – “Never give up. In football, it doesn’t matter if you are losing three against zero, but you never give up. You never gave up and you are giving everything that is best for the Venezuelans. Long live Maduro.”

In 2017, the right winged opposition backed up by US tried to create political unrest in Venezuela. It was then also that Diego extended his support to Maduro and to the people of Venezuela. He wrote in his Facebook wall – “We are Chavistas until death. When Maduro orders, I am dressed as a soldier for a free Venezuela to fight against imperialist forces and who want to take our flags, which is the most sacred thing we have. Long live revolution.”

Meanwhile, the US backed right wing leader Henrique Capriles took a dig on Diego on his beliefs. He said that we would stop supporting Maduro if he had to live for 15 dollars a day. Diego did not keep quiet, he countered with a big long ranger strike from outside the penalty box – “Capriles, don’t victimise me. I know what it is to live with seven brothers and have nothing to eat. I wish we had those 15 dollars! The only difference between you and me is that I never sold out.

He might have had many flaws, regarding his addictions and all, but Diego was a man of principle. From the alleys of Buneos Aries to the streets of Naples, his legacy will keep on living, giving birth to new Diegos. Fidel and Che, they were badasses, ultimate badasses who defied the US imperialism by their own will, and so did Diego, not actively in politics, but he kept on breaking the walls of capitalism off the field, and last lines of defence on the field. Long live revolution, long live Diego, rest in power.