It’s the 55th minute at the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and Diego Armando Maradona is about to score one of the greatest goals the tournament has ever seen. One that should cement him as one of the legends of the game. He picks up the ball inside his own half, spins from one
But four minutes earlier, Maradona had scored another infamous goal that would ultimately become his legacy. The diminutive Argentinian had played a one-two, and as the ball looped into the area he had to contest with Shilton. Knowing he had a significant height disadvantage, he cleverly raised his arm as he leaped, punching the ball past the
Those four minutes sum up Maradona: at times a footballing god, but also capable of lying and cheating without remorse. It is little surprise, then, that the 58-year-old provides the fascinating focus of the eponymous film directed by Asif Kapadia. Utilising over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, the film centres on Maradona’s turbulent seven years (1984-91) at Napoli, in
Cleverly-knit home recordings from family, friends and fans document his journey from a player broken both physically and mentally during his brief spell in
Throughout the film, it becomes clear there are two versions of the Argentinian, as best summed up by his personal trainer Fernando Signorini. He describes Diego, the young man from the slums of
As with the man, the film can be split into two: footage of the footballer in action and candid moments of the troubled man off the pitch. Watching clips from his games at
Despite the events taking place predominately in the late 1980s, there are also themes within the film that, worryingly, still echo today. For example, vile racist chants that should be consigned to the past by now but are sadly still heard in terraces today.
While the film will certainly be popular with football fans, its appeal goes beyond those with a love of the beautiful game. At its heart is a man who was always willing to shoulder the burden of responsibility, be it as the main breadwinner at the tender age of 15 for his family, or captaining his national team and dragging them to World Cup victory.
And during this we see how every human is fallible, examining how society’s desire to idolise and deify our heroes can lead them struggling to cope with that status, how swift they can descend and how we then demonise them as they fall. It is a film that could just as easily been about a pop star, Hollywood actor or even a reality TV contestant. And it’s because of this we should all watch, listen and learn.