BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, November 25 – The world will mark the first anniversary on Thursday of the death of Diego Maradona, considered by some to be the best player of all time and a man adored in his home country Argentina despite, or perhaps because of, his human flaws .
Argentinian club matches will mark a minute of silence and players will organize themselves into a ’10’ formation on the pitch to honor Maradona’s famous jersey number, while special masses will be held – including in the Buenos Aires slum. where Maradona grew up, to mark the day of her death.
In Naples, where he made part of his career, two statues of the striker should be unveiled.
“We will miss you for the rest of our lives,” the Argentine Football League said in tribute on the eve of the anniversary, with a video of the life, goals and numerous trophies of the man nicknamed “Pibe” de Oro “(Golden Child).
Maradona died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star had battled cocaine and alcohol for years and suffered from liver, kidney and cardiovascular problems when he died.
His death shocked fans around the world, and tens of thousands of people lined up to parade past his coffin, draped in the Argentinian flag, at the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires for three days of national mourning.
He may be dead, but in Argentina, Maradona is everywhere.
From ubiquitous murals that portray him as a deity to television series about his life and even a religion named after him.
His two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, which saw Argentina triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made Maradona an instant hero.
– ‘God’s hand’ –
His story of rags to riches, his stellar athletic feats, his complicated life, and his dramatic death anchored his place in the Argentinian psyche.
In towns, Maradona’s name is commemorated in countless graffiti: “Diego lives”, “10 Eternal” and “D10S” – a play on words with the Spanish word for god, “Dios”, and the famous number of Maradona jersey.
Murals in Buenos Aires depict him with angel wings, like a patron saint with halo and scepter, or here on Earth, embracing the World Cup.
Maradona is perhaps remembered as much for his “Hand of God” goal – which illegally fell out of his hand in what he attributed to supernatural intervention – as for his second in the same match against the England which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century”.
These extremes – “a virtuous goal and a sinful goal” which also reflected Maradona’s life of conflict between virtue and vice – help explain people’s fascination with him, according to Latin American columnist Eduardo Galeano.
The purpose of the “Hand of God”, he said, turned Maradona “into a kind of tarnished God; the most human of the Gods ”.
For historian Felipe Pigna, Maradona is “a hero with many imperfections” – a blend of qualities that reflects “what it means to be Argentinian”.
– ‘Creator of happiness’ –
An investigation into the star’s death has been opened following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s five children against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, whom they accuse of their father’s deteriorating condition after an operation.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor concluded in April that Maradona’s treatment was riddled with “deficiencies and irregularities” and said his medical team had left its survival “to fate”.
The case is followed closely by a fascinated nation, competing for the headlines with the court case of an estate dispute involving two of Maradona’s daughters.
In addition to the floor-to-floor media coverage, this week a Cuban woman who had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago accused him and those around him, abuse, including rape.
Maradona’s second daughter, Dalma, 34, said she would not be attending any of the commemoration events on Thursday for what she described as “the worst day of my life”.
“A year after his death, Diego, creator of happiness, also continues to cause pain,” the Argentinian daily La Nacion said this week.
“Through the sadness of his death, because we loved him so much. And through the evidence of its self-destruction. The great contradiction between public happiness and private suffering.
strawberries-mlr / jc