In this writing I want to celebrate a person who, although not born in Italy, is nevertheless a symbol of Naples. Maradona, the most Neapolitan Argentine ever.
November 26, 2020 Italy
These days many are talking about Diego. Journalists, sportsmen, experts of all kinds.
Art critics compare him to Caravaggio. An adventurous and violent existence. One with the ball, the other on the canvas, he knew how to convey intense emotions with bright lights and deep shadows.
Then there are those who see him as the symbol of the redemption of peoples: of his Argentina, as of the Neapolitans of which he felt a part, since “I would never have been able to wear any other shirt in Italy than that of Naples” as he said.
The Neapolitan journalist Francesco Amodeo relives the feat that consecrated Maradona’s genius at the 1986 World Cup.
Those were years in which Argentina was in the midst of a serious economic crisis; doubly victim, both of its rulers and of dominant imperialism. With devastating consequences for the people, of which Maradona was a representative and idol.
It was June 22, 1986, the match against England, a member of the world economic powers.
The ball thrown in the direction of Diego Maradona rears up and goes towards the English goalkeeper…
At that point the clash between the two figures becomes emblematic.
Imperialism with its power against the people with its genius.
The ball falls from the sky: Maradona manages – no one knows how – to jump higher than the English goalkeeper, at least 20 cm taller than him, but he knows he cannot hit it first, and he has a stroke of genius:
he raises his closed left fist and hits the ball, which ends up in the net.
He will call it The Hand of God; the very one that seems to have been denied to its people.
That goal, despite the technical irregularity, represents the moment of redemption.
After four minutes he still overtakes all his opponents alone starting from the center of the field and scores what will be called “the goal of the century“. Argentina win and in the final they will beat West Germany.
What could never have happened militarily and economically, happens thanks to Diego on a football field.
I have never seen Maradona’s Napoli, as also says the song by Anastasio, a young rapper from Campania who, like me, was born in the 90s; but I feel as if with Diego’s death those last remnants of an era were slipping away, that special aura that it will probably never come back. As we head into an uncertain future.
I watch him again while he dribbles on the notes of the song “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Santa Esmeralda. This is how I’ll remember him. For his humanity and the joy he transmitted to all who watched him play.
Scritto da Matilde Vallenari