To see him play, was to witness a genius at work.

I hope you’ll forgive me, since it’s a Celtic themed blog, but I thought I’d skip my usual Celtic player tribute for a change and turn to my favourite player ever.

Diego Maradona the classic number 10 was given the nickname “The Golden Boy” he was the first player ever to break the world transfer fee twice, to Barcelona for Β£5 million, then to Napoli for Β£6.9 million.

Raised in a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, he was a son of an Argentine father and a mother of both Italian and Croatian heritage. If anything he taught us that being born into relative poverty should never deter us from following our dreams.

When Diego first came to Argentinos Juniors for trials they did not believe he was only 8 years old, although he was small in stature he played like an adult, when they eventually discovered that Diego was telling the truth they decided to devote themselves purely to him, it was clear, even then, he was an exceptional talent.

Maradona made his professional debut on his 16th birthday, and that debut was to become legendary as he nutmegged opposition player Juan Domingo Cabrera during the game and left Cabrera standing for dead, Diego would last five years at Argentinos Juniors, from 1976 to 1981, scoring 115 goals in 167 games, before his then, huge transfer to Boca Juniors, a team he always wanted to play for.

Diego then went to Barcelona, after the 1982 World Cup for a then world record transfer fee of Β£5 million Maradona won the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup, The following year, Barcelona beat Real Madrid in El ClΓ‘sico, Maradona scored and became the first Barcelona player to be applauded by arch-rival Real Madrid fans. Only Ronaldinho (Nov 2005) and Iniesta (Nov 2015) have been given such an ovation as Barcelona players, from the Madrid fans at the Bernabeu.

Diego’s early days at Barcelona were looking very good, however it was to get harder due to illness and injury, a case of hepatitis, followed by a broken ankle from a reckless challenge by Athletico Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea (Nicknamed the Butcher of Bilbao) threatened to wreck Maradona’s career, but he overcame both.

More however was to follow, during another game against Athletico Bilbao, in which Barcelona lost 1-0 Andoni Goikoetxea (The Butcher of Bilbao) again, made another reckless challenge on Diego, whilst Bibao fans were taunting Diego throughout the whole game with racist insults towards his father, this together with xenophobic terms being directed towards Maradona from Bilbao player Miguel Sola, made Diego snap, A right old brawl ensued in front of the King of Spain 100,000 fans inside the stadium and millions watching on TV.

The brawl effectively ended Diego’s Barcelona career, and he was sold to Napoli for 6.9 million.

To try to guage the extent of Maradona’s popularity we can look at his presentation to Napoli fans, a massive 75,000 fans turned out just to welcome him to the club. The fans were convinced that their saviour had arrived. One local newspaper printed that even though Naples had no mayor, very poor housing, schools, buses, mass unemployment and sanitation was awful, none of this mattered, because we have Maradona !

Maradona like every other genius had his off field demons, like Jinky and Best had with alcohol, Diego’s was drugs.

While at Napoli Diego Maradona reached his peak, and became revered as Napoli won their first ever Serie A Championship, sparking a city carnival celebration which ran for over a week. Hundreds of new born babies were christened Diego.


Napoli captained by Diego would also win the league in 89-90, Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989 beating Stuttgard 5-4 over two legs, and the Italian Supercup in 1990, and he was the all-time leading goalscorer for Napoli, with 115 goals, although his personal problems increased and his cocaine use continued.

Maradona made his full international debut at age 16, against Hungary, The 1982 World Cup will be renowned for the one where Diego Maradona was repeatedly fouled, some shocking refereeing decisions, and it led to Maradona being sent off for a retaliatory challenge against Brazil’s Batista.

The 1986 World cup however was to belong to Diego Maradona he finally stamped his dominance on the world stage to become the most dynamic player in the competition, Argentina with Diego would beat West Germany in the final, on the way to the final Diego would score five goals and made five assists, none are more spoken about than his 2 against England, with the background of the Falklands War between Argentina and the UK still fresh on peoples minds.

The infamous Hand of God goal, followed by his 66yard run past 5 players and the goal of the tournament, it was later voted as the greatest goal in the history of the World Cup. He gathered the ball in his own half, turned round taking eleven touches he ran 66 yards, gliding past five English players before he left keeper Shilton on his arse, and slotted the ball into the net. Also voted Goal of the Century in 2002.

Yes, Diego sure had his demons, sometimes brought about by the company he kept, fex: his links to the Cammora (Italian mafia) while at Napoli, but what he did outwith his day job, could easily be forgotten for what he showed when he stepped onto a football pitch the wee man was a genius with a ball, i always felt it was a priviledge to watch him.

Regarded as one of the most technically gifted dribblers in the game ever, Johan Cruyff said he noticed similarities between Maradona and Messi with the ball seemingly attached to their body when dribbling.

From Master to apprentice ?

He may have been silly after he had done it all on the biggest football stage in the world, and his demons multiplied with his fame, but there is no doubt whatsoever, that Diego Maradona was an exceptional and truly unrivaled player and an outstanding talented individual and athlete.

If you do one thing with your spare time, I seriously suggest you spend 20 minutes and watch this compilation video of this wee genius at work, undoubtedly the most skillful player ever, and probably the worlds most fouled football player …..oh to have seen him wear the famous hoops.

RIP Diego Armando Maradona.

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BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

BILLYBHOY

Even I wouldn’t be that optimistic!

At least-not yet…

McCaff

Loved being back at Parkheid with the wee man tonight and thoroughly enjoyed the goals. Kyogo looked offside for his but I haven’t seen a replay so couldn’t disagree with anyone who says it was a wrong call. Just before Turnbull’s first I said to the guy next to me that he had to get the ball out of his feet earlier to get his shot away…well Taylor laid it on a plate for a sublime finish! His second showed exactly what he can do when he makes the space and lines it up properly – a classic strike giving the keeper nae chance! Taylor getting a lot of praise tonight and he seems to be learning to recycle the ball rather than try to hit a space he isn’t able to but he is the weakest link in the team and I’d be happy to replace him with a bit more height, strength and positional awareness. I’m not sure I agree with ATOB about Starfelt on the deck too much, I thought he played well – better than his previous showings – and read the game decently. Calmac, Rogic and Turnbull ran the show for the first 30 minutes, after that I thought we became a bit disjointed. Although the tie was well won in the end I felt we could have been a bit more secure in our passing and movement but instead we seemed to invite them onto us for most of the second half.
A word of warning…the slow passing about at the back will be our undoing if we don’t lift the pace and movement to offer an out ball, we rode our luck at times tonight and a better team, Alkmaar for example, could well punish us for such slow, deep play!
All in all, a great day at the office. Great to be back, great to see such positive forward play, great to see a proper mobile striker willing to work hard FOR THE TEAM! The Ange Brand is exciting to watch, just what the support need after the turgidity of not only Lenny but also BR’s last while and also to push the last season’s failures to the back of our minds!
Hail Hail!!

BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

MCCAFF

Glad you and the not so young now fella enjoyed it.

I know I did!

McCaff

Bobby…an old fella who sits in front turns to my wee guy and says “Look at the size of ye! Are ye merrit yit, how many weans have ye got!” 🀣🀣🀣

Garry Postecoglou

McCaff
Hope you had a great Lakelands break.
Tonight was a real throwback to happier Celtic times. There is a real momentum growing in this Celtic team.
My grandson Lewis loved the Dundee game.
Got him a ticket for Sunday. We are in the standing section behind the Green Brigade.
After watching tonight’s match with my daughter on her computer, he is buzzing for Sunday.
I agree with you. Thought Starfelt was excellent tonight. Very steady and kept it simple. Reminds me of Mogga in our defence. πŸ‘πŸ€πŸ’š

Auldheid

Squire Danaher
I have been catching up and reading the comments from earlier in the day.

Rebus67/Chairbhoy both deserve credit for the debate through this afternoon/early evening.

I am usually with Chairbhoy but Rebus 6:42 comment struck a chord.

I have often wondered if P Lawwell took the view motivated not to pursue due financial punishment/consequences for the Huns for fear of further toxification of the cesspit which is Scottish football, and literally fear for the safety of Celtic employees and supporters.

You could bet your sweet bippy that the furore would be presented in the media as an OF issue rather than a governance issue and we would get the blame.
=====================
All I’ll say is that whatever it was he feared , it must have been something huge to explain his resistance to getting answers on the circumstances a licence was granted to Rangers in 2011 given the amount of overwhelming evidence (that he asked to see) shareholders presented him with starting with a trickle June 2013 before Res 12 was tabled at the Nov AGM. The response to which was UEFA involvement was unnecessary in spite of evidence provided suggesting there was an overdue payable during 2011.

He should have gone to UEFA then. He had every reason to ask them to investigate and as it turned out the same trickle of evidence was corroborated in court during the CW trail in 2017 leading to the SFA starting an investigation that they then wormed their way out of completing.

Personal and staff safety would be a consideration but there has to be a bigger explanation to a) pretending to work with shareholders for a couple of years then b) stopping any pretence when provided with hard evidence (by hand btw) that the grant had been made in well dodgy circumstances. Its all there on http://www.res12.uk to help folk decide.

McCaff

Cheers Garry…holiday was magic but the weather was shite! Not quite as bad as here but definitely curtailed us from some of our normal stuff down there. Made up for it at night with extra beer and wine though!! I found it really expensive this year, eating out was ridiculous but heyho, yer on yer holibags so what the…😁
I’m glad Lewis loved the game, what a brilliant game to go back to. He’ll absolutely love the North Curve, a dream for any young Celtic fan. I was thinking tonight how much longer will my wee guy be happy sitting with this boring old fecker up the North Stand when he could be belting out the rebs with the GB! πŸ™„

BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS

AULDHEID

Lawwell’s behaviour towards you and the other lads was a disgrace. I don’t know how he can face himself in a mirror,I truly don’t.

BOBBY MURDOCH'S CURLED-UP WINKLEPICKERS
Garry Postecoglou

McCaff
I was in North Curve tonight. Have sung myself hoarse, and feel knackered. Lewis will love it. πŸ‘πŸ€πŸ’š

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