By Associated Press
BUENOS AIRES: The Argentines celebrated Diego Maradona’s 58th birthday on Wednesday by unveiling a bronze statue of the footballing legend that recreates his goal against England who was voted the greatest of the 20th century.
Maradona’s birthday was October 30, but the unveiling was postponed for a day due to the rain. The statue is located near the stadium of the Argentinos Juniors club in Buenos Aires, where he made his career debut in 1976.
A decade later, Maradona captained Argentina in the 1986 World Cup and scored two of the most memorable goals in football history. The first was the ‘Hand of God’ goal, in which tiny Maradona jumped with England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and hit the ball into the net. The sleight of hand gave Argentina a 1-0 lead.
But the real magic came minutes later when Maradona received the ball in his own half, passed through a pair of English players and sprinted towards the opposing goal. He then beat two other opponents, fought off another and faked Shilton before shooting the ball into the net.
Sculptor Jorge Martinez said that “the goal that all Argentines cried out” was the inspiration for his statue of Maradona.
“It was a milestone in the history of Argentina,” he said.
The 9-foot (2.8-meter) statue was placed on a terrace near a mural where Maradona is shown wearing the Argentinos Juniors’ red uniform. Maradona did not attend the unveiling ceremony. He coached Mexican second division club Dorados de Sinaloa.
“Sculptures are usually made for the dead and Diego is alive,” said Alberto Perez, who heads the historical committee of La Paternal, the small neighborhood in Buenos Aires where the statue is located.
“You have to pay homage when you are alive and everyone should know that their neighborhood will always remember him.”