Like every other World Cup that has ever been played prior to this one and after the decline of Diego Maradona, this time too, the talk in Argentina is if there will be a Maradona again.
Their hopes and wishes will be answered this time as the world will witness the Argentine team grace the greens with Maradona once again. This time though, in a completely different role as the Coach of Argentina.
On the other hand, keen eyes are on one boy who has proven it all, at every stage but this one. Lionel Messi will want to kiss the culmination of every footballer’s dream – the World Cup. This is one achievement that will lift him from a great footballer to becoming a legend. Lionel Messi will want to share the crown with Maradona (himself) and Pele. The Argentine fans see a Maradona in him too.
Such is the frenzy of Maradona’s name that despite of the team having the world’s best player in Lionel Messi, the question being asked again and again is “Can Maradona do it?”
Most critics believe that Maradona does not make a great tactician or personnel manager. His image in the media of a “superstar gone wild”, has not changed despite of his attempts at recovery. Till 2007 there were serious concerns over his health and it is only a miracle that he can be seen on the field stretching these days.
However, one off incidents with Maradona will always happen. In the World Cup qualifiers Argentina lost 6-1 to minnows Bolivia and 3-1 to rivals Brazil. After qualifying for the World Cup in spite of this dismal performance, Maradona came out mud-slinging at his detractors in a press conference. His well-wisher and biographer suggested to Maradona’s family members that his actions were “unproductive and arrogant” and suggested that he corrects his attitude. He received a reply saying, “But then that would not have been Maradona”.
It is a fact that Maradona and controversy go hand in hand. He is a loud mouth and that’s about it. His recent remarks about “running naked through Buenos Aires” if he wins the Cup show the naivety and madness inherent in his character. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Maradona is in charge of Argentina simply because of his stature as a player. Maradona has very little coaching experience and does not have proper permissions to be a coach. He has been let off for all his profanities and has taken full advantage of that fact. He ran over the foot of a cameraman the day he announced the 23 man squad for the Cup.
But all these sins of Maradona will burn away if he is able to achieve what he is there for. If he can help Argentina to lift the World Cup – and if Maradona does do a Maradona – come July the 11th Maradona will run naked through Buenos Aires.