Like George Best before him, it was Maradona’s flaws that took his legend to another level – and the new movie on the Argentinean revels in the dark side of Diego.
“Diego Maradona” is no polished hagiography. Narrated off-screen by the man himself (and sounding much older than his 58 years), it’s an intimate look at his pivotal years in Napoli in the mid to late 80s, where his life on and off the field became mythical as fame and success combined with sex and drugs, fuelled by money and mafia.
By the admission of those closest to him, he was a splintered madman genius.
There was Diego - the consummate professional: dedicated, loyal, rational and focused. He trained hard, he put in extras and would fulfil his contract with total dedication even when he wanted out.
And then there was Maradona. The maverick sex, drugs and rocking goals legend, who started the party at full-time on Sunday and didn’t stop until Wednesday when the cleansing ritual of training restarted all over again.
Along the way he almost single-handedly took an apparently near-bankrupt side battling relegation to Scudettos and European glory.
With Argentina, he destroyed Falkland War foes England with the cynical Hand of God goal – but then followed it up with one of the greatest goals the World Cup has ever seen, a gaucho dribbling work of genius from one end of the pitch to the other, en route to being World Champions.
If one game reflected his life, it would be that. As the posters say: Rebel, cheat, hero, god. (Interestingly, the wording on the posters seems to change from one country to another, with “cheat” often replaced by “hustler”…or just deleted altogether.)
Four years later, he struck again, shattering Italy’s World Cup dreams at Italia 90 when his spot kick – at Napoli’s own home stadium – helped bring the hosts’ campaign to an end.
For those in Naples, that was the moment he went too far, and the knives came out for now coke-bloated star.
As Italians jeered the Argentine anthem, Maradona curses the crowd: “You sons of bitches…”
The mafia and police protection he had once enjoyed ended abruptly. Phone taps revealed the depths of his round-the-clock sex and drugs self-indulgence.
As his personal trainer Fernando Signorini admits: “Diego has had a life both tremendous and terrible.”