‘When you’re on the field, the life goes away, the problems go away…’
For people of my generation, the genius of Diego Maradona is severely tempered by what he became. An addict. A clown. A joke. And while Maradona still struggles to outrun his demons with those stubby little legs, it is important to also remember what made him so compelling in the first place. Diego Maradona covers both sides of that enigmatic coin.
An exhaustive retrospective that begins with Maradona’s life in the slums of Argentina and takes in two World Cup finals, two unprecedented Serie A titles at Napoli, a crippling cocaine addiction and the end of a dream in Naples, Asif Kapadia’s love letter to one of the greatest football players of all time is both hugely uplifting and incredibly sad. As with All by Himself, the incredible documentary charting the rise and fall of George Best, another troubled footballing genius, Diego Maradona doesn’t shy away from the darker side of its subject, nor does it sensationalise the grubbier aspects of Maradona’s life. Instead, Maradona’s story is told through a mix of archive footage and narration from those who knew him best, including the man himself. The result is a documentary that clearly conveys all aspects of an unharmonious personality. ‘Diego’ was the humble, hard working kid from the slums who was reluctantly deified in Naples, ‘Maradona’ is the snarling beast, the insatiable yin to Diego’s yang. Both are covered in detail here, and it is hard to reconcile the grace and beauty that Maradona displays on the pitch with the grubby decadence he indulges in off it.
Ultimately, Maradona’s reputation will always be tarnished, particularly in England, but that shouldn’t mean that we can’t also appreciate the man for what he was. One of the greatest footballers to ever grace the game.