Maradona still providing emotion and inspiration

  • Diego Maradona turns 60 today

  • Some of the Argentinian's goals and plays are genuine works of art

  • The Albiceleste genius has himself inspired many artists

While for most of those who practice it, football is primarily a sport, a select few have succeeded in elevating it to an art form. Witnessing Diego Maradona in full flow with the ball at his feet could thus be compared to visiting the exhibition of a great painter, attending an operatic masterpiece or delving into a literary classic.

No matter how often you see the finest oeuvres of the former Argentinian playmaker, they never lose their appeal. Indeed, for some artists, they have even been a source of inspiration. To mark Maradona’s 60th birthday, looks at some of the artistic creations spawned by an admiration for El Pibe de Oro.

Diego in song

Tributes to Maradona in songs are legion and can be found on every continent and in almost every style. Some have become veritable anthems, taken up and sung proudly by admirers of the Argentinian the world over. Perhaps the best example is La Mano de Dios, composed by the Argentinian cuarteto singer Rodrigo El Potro Bueno, recounting his idol’s life journey from the makeshift pitches of his impoverished neighbourhood to the top of the world – with a little help along the way from "the hand of God".

Argentinian rock also put Maradona centre stage through the likes of Los Piojos (Marado), Fito Paez (Y dale alegria a mi corazon) and Andres Calamaro (Maradona), while Mano Negra did the same in French rock (Santa Maradona), before the band’s singer, Manu Chao, gave his solo tribute with La vida tombola. For their part, Claudio Gabis and Charly Garcia went with the Blues in composing Maradona Blues, while Los Cafres saluted their compatriot in reggae style with Capiton Pelusa.

On the screen

Given that his life has had the kind of unpredictable script and myriad plot twists normally found on the big screen, it is hardly surprising that the current coach of Gimnasia has inspired an array of films.

Among the best known are Maradona by Kusturica, a documentary about the life of El Diez by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, which attempts to portray the man behind the icon and its popular representation. Then there is Diego Maradona, by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia. While also a documentary, it focuses primarily on the player’s years at Napoli and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. "I was fascinated by his journey, wherever he went there were moments of incredible brilliance and drama, he was a leader, taking his teams to the very top, but also many lows in his career. He was always the little guy fighting against the system, against the wealthy, the powerful and he was willing to do anything, to use all of his cunning and intelligence to win," Kapadia said.

The adulation and fascination which Maradona provoked has also been immortalized in many other films, including Maradona, La Mano de Dios (Marco Risi, 2007), El Camino de San Diego (Carlos Sorin, 2006) and Amando a Maradona (Javier Vasquez, 2005).

Diego Armando Maradona (Argentinien, re.) and Regisseur Emir Kusturica (Bosnien Herzegowina) während der 61. Filmfestspiele 2008 in Cannes - PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRA

Diego on stage

The world of theatre has also witnessed many productions dedicated to the Albiceleste maestro. Perhaps the most striking is Barrilete Cosmico, el partido del siglo, named after the words used by Victor Hugo Morales while commentating on Maradona’s glorious solo goal against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico. This comedy takes place in an apartment in Buenos Aires, where three fans are watching that unforgettable match on TV – the precise moment the wife of one of the men chooses to reveal she has been having an affair with the other two. Yet for the protagonists, this huge revelation is less important than the events Morales is famously describing on the small screen: "Maradona, what a memorable run, the best play of all time! Cosmic kite, which planet did you come from to leave so many Englishmen behind?"

Just as in this scene, every Argentinian could probably tell you exactly where they were on 22 June 1986, and for each of them, nothing was more important than the immortal words of the Uruguayan commentator.

Murals and statues

While you might expect to find representations of Maradona on the streets of Buenos Aires and Naples, where supporters of Boca Juniors and Napoli have afforded him the status of legend, even deity, such is the passion that Maradona evokes that it would be impossible to draw up a list of all the monuments erected or painted to glorify him.

For example, in 2017, a statue of El Diez in the Indian city of Kolkata was unveiled by Maradona himself. The following year, to mark his 58th birthday, the Argentinian capital presented its favourite son with a bronze statue. The sculpture, located near the Argentinos Juniors stadium where he began his professional career, depicts the former world champion in action in one of the finest moments of his career – the 1986 quarter-final against England.

Even to this day, new murals in his honour appear around the world. Unsurprisingly, perhaps the most striking one of all was created by Neapolitan artist Jorit Agoch to mark the 30th anniversary of Napoli’s first Italian league title in 1987. The giant depiction of the former Partenopei skipper adorns the side of a building in the San Giovanni Teduccio neighbourhood.

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 25: Street art showing ex Napoli player Diego Maradona in the city of Naples ahead of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona at Stadio San Paolo on February 25, 2020 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Diego everywhere

Whether through books, songs, films, paintings, tattoos, children's names, stadium names or even the church established in his honour, Diego Maradona and his legend remain a constant source of inspiration.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 08:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image was altered with digital filters). Diego Maradona of Argentina poses for a portrait ahead of The Best FIFA Football Awards at Kameha Zurich Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)