Maradona = Football and Michael Jackson = Dancing for an entire generation!

January 10, 2022

Claudio Caniggia, Schillachi, Carlos Valderrama, Peter Shilton, Baggio, Walter Zenga, Lothar Matthaus, Bergkamp, Stoichkov, Jurgen Klinsmann, Cafu – these and other names from the Soccer world, would get some neurons of the long term memory buzzing! Mainly because of the football trading cards, and they were such prized commodities of possession for 90s kids.While these names, amazing players as they may be, may strike a chord somewhere, but one name was a far bigger part of our childhood memory – Diego Maradona! I remember in the 1994 World cup, he played only 2 games for Argentina, but that was enough to wake up insanely early, to watch the matches. He is the only footballer, who you would remember after his career, his positive dope test met with disbelief, gasping at his weight, struggle with drug addiction, or his overly animated behavior as coach of  Argentina. Other than cricket, there were very few sporting icons, who captured the imagination as Maradona did. Maradona is a huge equivalent of Football for Indians, in my mind nearest analogy, is of Michael Jackson for Dancing! For Indian kids, “soccer” was a term they didn’t even hear all of childhood, that football could be another sport in another part of the globe was beyond imagination! Of people running insanely with the ball and tackling each other like run-away bulls and for what purpose, I don’t know to date. I also, now know that football and rugby are not the same! Imagine my surprise with that, and I don’t have the slightest inclination to find out what the difference is. Much the same feeling that Americans harbor for Cricket, I am sure.There was little chance that any of us from that generation would have seen the “Hand of God” or “The Goal of the century” from the same 1986 match, until much later when YouTube or the internet came along. But just imagine, the strong buzz of word of mouth awe which may have originated in football-crazy bylanes of Kolkata, growing to a stage in small-town India, when any forward would run with the ball without passing, and tried to dribble and score on their own, only to be met with “Abey! Maradona mat ban!” after kicking the ball wide. Little did these kids even know, that the guy was actually known for making runs down the right flank and make precise passes to his mate in scoring position!Maradona alone, yellow Brazil jersey and the Amazon river, were the only icons and identifiers of the whole continent of South America! I am not sure if kids today can even emulate or get awed by icons. They have been numbed a bit I feel, with so many pulls from all over. Is a software CEO the right icon for a kid growing up, holed up before their laptop inside the home, or a fantastic player, when they should be out to play with friends? Never mind his off-field issues.I showed my 6-year-old, the Goal of the century, and tried telling her who this guy was. I sometimes, take a football to the park, and have her win it from me, just as a way to get her some exercise. Of course, one can’t help but remember those evenings of playing back to back matches, using a bicycle pump to fill the air, the loud bangs of the football on Garage doors, the thrill of taking a penalty or testing strength on how far one can throw-in the ball, pride in knowing the offside rule, and that feeling of selflessness or sacrifice when you passed the ball to a teammate, to score a Goal. Well played Maradona, rest in peace, hope you wear the number 10 jersey on your last ride out!  – Blog written by Harsh Roy for Valuez. Available for free download on Android devices at