Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Maradona Admits To Being a Git

Diego Maradona yesterday, disproving the idea that cocaine is slimming

When I first heard about this yesterday my initial working title was "Maradona admits to being a c-word" but Country Mouse wisely counseled me against alienating most of you who visit this page with extremely vulgar language originating from an obscure dispute I had no more role in than a spectator. Anyway, to the meat:

In the 1986 World Cup quarter finals, England faced Argentina on the football pitch for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War (and for those of you who suspect less than ideologically correct bias on my part, here's an Argentine account of the island's history and the conflict) and 20 years after their solitary World Cup win of 1966. At the time the Argentinian number 10, Diego Maradona, was fast cementing his reputation as the best footballer of his generation and his national team were doing a good job of throwing off their image as "animals". Enter Maradona and the "Hand of God":

"Maradona stands by 'Hand of God'
Argentine football hero Diego Maradona has said he is unrepentant about using his fist in a controversial goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. Speaking on his TV show, Maradona said the intervention, which he nicknamed "The Hand of God", was justified.

"The truth is that I don't for a second regret scoring that goal with my hand," he said on the programme. The footballer apparently defended his goal as his response to Britain's claim to the Falkland islands. He said he wanted to let Argentines and the whole world know the truth about a key moment in football history.

Maradona scored the goal by punching the ball into the net during a jump as goalkeeper Peter Shilton leapt into the air towards the ball.

Argentina won the match 2-1 thanks to a second, impressive goal scored by Maradona, and described by England coach Bobby Robson as "a miracle". The South American team went on to win the World Cup that year.But that first Argentine goal will remain among the most controversial episodes in football history.

From the referee's angle it looked as though Maradona had headed the ball into the back of the net. After scoring during the quarter-final match, Maradona said the boys came over to celebrate.

"They were quite timid. They came over to embrace me but it was as if they were saying: 'We've robbed them'," he said. "But I said to them: 'Whoever robs a thief gets a 100-year pardon.'"

The player was apparently referring to the Falklands War, fought unsuccessfully by Argentina against the UK to take control of the islands it claimed as its own.

The 1986 World Cup was the first I have strong memories about. Spain 82 saw my family camping in Italy (next to a Spanish family- cue me trying to communicate with my book of world flags with the Spanish boy and girl about the same age as my brother and me: I think I borded them shitless with my pointing to the Royal Mail ensign et al, but I always have been a little didactic). I was away at boarding school for much of Mexico 86 and so spent most of it in the TV room in the company of 80 or so testosterone surging teenage boys like myself (most of the girls wisely cleared out to make the most of the English spring). I marvelled at Gary Lineker single-handedly destroying Poland; Lineker and Beardsley gutting Paraguay; and then almost exploding with anticipation for England vs. Argentina.

As detailed above, the game ended in disaster; first the one Spanish speaking football fans reverently call the "hombre gordo que tiene gusto de la cocaína y de prostitutes" cheated and then to add insult to injury he scored one of the most spectacular and breathtaking goals in football history. Result- Argentina 2 England 1, and one orange haired boy on the eve of his 13th birthday sobbing in disbelief along with most of a nation. To my baseball fan friends- Maradona's hand was Bill Buckner for a whole country. 1986 was a truly cursed year.

So until June 7 2002 World Cups were all about a) hoping England won b) hoping Germany blew it and c) hoping Maradona either left the field in tears or in an ambulance. In that regard, 1998 was particularly hard. I say 6/7/02 as that was the day we beat Argentina in South Korea/Japan; for many English it was like winning the World Cup; a similar feeling described by the Argentinians in regards to 1986.


Debbie said...

Your captions crack me up

weasel said...

Debbie, does your lack of correction mean that I got my Spanish right in this description of Maradona: "hombre gordo que tiene gusto de la cocaína y de prostitutes"?

Debbie said...

Almost perfect
Es prostitutas no prostitutes
Muy bien

Mondale said...

I didn't go to boarding school because my parents loved me.

weasel said...

Thank God- I couldn't have taken a full seven years of you.

I think my parents' loved me more than they knew: sending me to spend my teenage years in a Co-Ed boarding school with easy access to liquor, mucky books, and an on-campus candy shop... I loved it there (sigh).