Greats like him, or Michael Jackson or Bob Marley, are not just symbols of the immorality of man. They are stars molded from the celestial glories, for the beauty and joy of humanity. When they fall, when their lights eternally dim, mortals, particularly those aiming for the skies, must scramble to gather the lessons.
What did I learn from his life? There have been countless times when I felt Lionel Messi would have won a world cup, was he a Diego Armando Maradona. There were those moments when you get the feeling, that larger than life exuberance of Maradona which often seemed to radiate all around him, to inspire others to exceed their limits, could have carried Argentina across some tight finish lines.
Many Argentines feel the same way too, which is why Lionel Messi, La Pulga, may never quite enjoy the universal adulation of his countrymen, the way El Pibe de Oro did. Yet as much as it’s true that Messi could have won the world cup it is also true that he also probably would have wasted his life on drugs and wouldn’t have sustained the excellence that we now know of him, for a decade and a half.
The lesson? The kryptonite to our stardom is also the Achilles heel for our downfall. The source of our greatness is also the source of our weakness. Both flow from the same source, our unique personality.
Diego was that human being with a left foot that left the world spellbound. He scored the goal regarded as the greatest in the history of the game. He won the world cup and countless honors. But he was also the Maradona who was expelled from the 94 world cup in disgrace.
He was also the Diego who nearly choked himself to death on drugs, an unrestrained passionate, and rebellious person who frequently ran into trouble with authorities.
But he did all those things because he was Diego. He fell from grace because he was Diego. But he only rose to glory because he was Diego in the first place. So, let’s be proud to embrace the greatness that God put within us.
Let’s be just and fair to accept the consequences of the weaknesses that come with it. When we celebrate Diego, we do so because by being a human who achieved immortality, he shows what we can achieve by being human.
For Diego Armando Maradona, history would remember him as the boy from the slums of Buenos Aires who became the greatest symbol of his nation. And all that was only possible because he was Diego with all its glories and inglorious.