Often regarded as the greatest footballer that has ever lived Diego Maradona was undoubtedly a supremely talented footballer. His compatriot Lionel Messi’s rise to power over the past decade has perhaps seen his reputation slide for many football fans, but not by much. His ‘Hand of God’ goal against the English followed by a quite frankly ridiculous solo goal remains one of the most iconic moments in footballing history.
Asif Kapadia’s new documentary aptly named ‘Diego Maradona’ shows the rise from little Diego of a large but poor Buenes Aires family to the footballing God that is Maradona. ‘Rags to Riches’ stories have become somewhat of a cliche but Maradona’s is as genuine and dramatic as they come. The documentary includes transcripts from his sister, who speaks of a 15 year old Diego working to support his family. He was given an apartment by his Boca Juniors and his whole family moved in. It is perhaps unsurprising then, that the pressure put on him at this young age would eventually take its toll later in life. His well documented battle with drug addiction is a major feature of this documentary. However, before those issues began to arise, Maradona was the cheeky Argentinian kid that guided Napoli to their first title in nearly 20 years.
Throughout the documentary we get insight from close personal friends and family such as his aforementioned sister and his wife as well as his esteemed personal trainer and mentor. Kapadia’s intention was clear- to open our minds to Maradona’s real experiences in life. If you went in with preconceived view of Maradona than I guarantee you left with that view significantly challenged. We get a truly fascinating insight into Diego’s family life with archive footage including that of his Father cooking steaks for the Argentine team. Early interviews portray him as an extremely modest and down to earth man. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Diego Maradona was and is in fact a human being but I have to admit to being quite moved by the intimacy of his family life and how close they remained. We all know Diego Maradona as a footballer but perhaps not so much as a person and Kapadia’s challenges his reputation as drug abusing adulterer without excusing his behavior.
This was more than just a biography of Maradona’s life. As an audience, we really feel like we’re joining Diego on his journey. I was as ecstatic when he ran the pitch to score against England as I was disappointed when Napoli fans turned on him. The chosen contributors helped in this regard. Kapadia used mostly Italian journalists who knew Maradona and were close to his situation in Napoli rather than well qualified but distant British journalists that are often used for documentaries . We even get an extract from a mobster who knew the footballer to add yet another insight into the complicated life of Maradona.
Maradona’s life is fraught with tragedy and disappointment as well as glory and happiness. His drug addiction plagued his time at Napoli and his adulterous relationship with his wife, which lead to a child was a national scandal. I don’t want to go too into dept on the details of the documentary as there’s really nothing like seeing it in the flesh but I will see that some of the details that emerged were hugely surprising as much as anything else.
If you are a football fan, I would highly recommend you watch this documentary. If you are not, I would highly recommend you do the same. It is an informative, engaging and at times moving documentary and one that everyone should see. Diego Maradona is more than just a footballer.He is an historical Napoleon figure. Hated by thousands but loved by millions.