Soccer Down Here
Diego is eternal
by Jason Longshore
I wrote about what Diego Maradona meant to me on his 60th birthday, which sadly was his last and only happened a few weeks ago. This has been a strange week and hard to explain. I never met Diego, never had a chance to watch him play live in a stadium, yet I felt like an extended family member passed away this week. For people who love this sport, that's what Maradona was. His play inspired people to dream about what could be in this game. He was the most talented player on the ball I have ever seen and I don't think anyone will surpass that. It will be hard to surpass that in my mind because Maradona always existed as a sort of myth. Watching him in the 1986 World Cup inspired me to play, but I didn't have much access to watching him play regularly. Besides, if you watch some of his greatest moments, he felt like a myth because these things shouldn't be possible.
That's just the goals, he might have been the best dribbler in the sport's history and his passing was world class as well.
Whenever you see a player make it from a difficult upbringing, you'll see Diego. Whenever you see a player pull off an audacious moment of ball control, you'll see Diego. Whenever you see a player go on a mazy dribbling run, you'll see Diego. Whenever you see a player do something that no one else would try, you'll see Diego.
Maradona will be part of this game for the rest of our lives. His incredible moments will inspire generations to follow and hopefully we will not let his memories fade. Also, the game has learned from some of the things Diego had to experience and is trying to find a better place. Clubs are taking better care of their young, talented players and not leaving them to figure it out themselves. Referees are protecting the artists with the ball more than they did in Diego's day. Soccer must protect its talents, Diego deserved better and hopefully his experiences will mean it won't happen again.
Maradona lived for the game. Managing at Gimnasia in many ways saved his life. It's sad to think that pandemic taking that away from him could have led to his decline. He was always happiest on a pitch, with a ball nearby. I'm very happy that he was able to spend the last year of his life working in soccer in his home country and soaking in the love of his people.
I'm sure there will be many more beautiful tributes to Maradona over the weekend, but here's a few that have stood out to me.