URGENT: Diego Armando Maradona died at age 60 after suffering a decompensation at his home (Wednesday, November 25, 2020).
June 4 is a date of special significance in Diego Armando Maradona’s brief career as a soccer player for Barcelona. It was, in 1982, the day of his official signing by the club and, exactly one year later, the day he lifted the first of the two titles he won as a Barça player.
After the League championship ended on April 30, 1983 with the surprising triumph of Athletic Bilbao, who won the trophy thanks to the defeat of Real Madrid at the Mestalla against Valencia on the last day, Barça and Madrid met in the final of the Copa del Rey for the fourth time in the history of the competition.
With Maradona in full swing, scoring two goals in the semifinal against Real Sociedad and accumulating seven in the five previous games, Barça reached the final when Alfredo Di Stéfano’s Real Madrid match, which ten days after finishing the Liga had lost the Cup Winners’ Cup final (2-1) against Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen, defending the title achieved a year earlier.
It was that final, which was played in Zaragoza, the first that caused a massive displacement of the two fans and the first in which the police had to intervene in the vicinity of the La Romareda stadium due to clashes between the then emerging groups of radical fans from both teams, Ultra Sur and Boixos Nois.
THE SCHUSTER SLEEVE CUT
The Zaragoza final went down in history as that of Marcos’ flight, author of the final goal in the last minute of the game and, above all, that of Bernd Schuster’s sleeve cut, who celebrated that decisive goal with the so-called butifarra which became legendary.
“Anyone interested in watching games from that time will see that, in general, today’s defenders caress forwards if compared to then,” recalls ESPN Deportes Lobo Carrasco, former Barça player, who started in that final and that He still remembers “the hunt” to which the Madrid players subjected a Maradona from whose pass, in an assist to Victor, the 1-0 was born half an hour into the game.
San José, Metgod, Angel, Stielike and, especially, Camacho, dedicated a repertoire of continuous kicks to Pelusa in order to decentralize Barça, which conceded the tie shortly after starting the second half after a mistake by Gerardo that Santillana took advantage of to mark empty door.
From there, in an increasingly harsh game and with the spirits burning between the two fans in the stands, the final headed to a final that presaged extra time … Until at the last minute a deep and mathematical throw from Maradona to the side was picked up by Julio Alberto, which after cutting Salguero centered so that Marcos, in an unlikely flight, finished headlong into the net the 2-1 that gave Barça the title.
“You always knew that I would give it to the foot. His soccer perfection was absolute ”recalled Julio Alberto, who did not hesitate to describe that final as“ one of the most special nights of my sporting life ”.
THE CUTOUT OF D10S
Barça conquered that final, widely celebrated in the club, and a week later the League Cup began, a tournament that has now disappeared and that ended that year in another final between the two giants, back and forth, in what was the Madridista opportunity to take revenge on Zaragoza.
It ended up becoming the confirmation of Diego in Barça and in the merengue disaster, which thus lost the fourth final and fifth title of the season.
Barça won the trophy on June 29 thanks to their victory (2-1) in the second leg played at the Camp Nou (with a goal from Diego, of course), but history maintains the stratospheric goal that he scored at the Bernabéu, in a first leg that ended in a draw (2-2) and caused the local fans to surrender to his majesty.
“I laughed, I confess, but not out of contempt for the rival, which I have never had, but to see what he had been able to do” confesses Carrasco, a luxury spectator of that marvel that he recounts in detail even later 37-year-old: “I received from Schuster, we both escaped and I gave him the ball jumping for a hard tackle… He left alone and after dribbling Miguel Angel he only needed to score but he waited for Juan José to arrive. It was a flash, a moment where you think ‘what does he do? If he only has to shoot at empty goal ‘and then he faked the ball while Juan José threw himself against the post to score what I think is the most incredible goal I have seen on the field ”.
It was the double of Maradona in Barcelona, two minor titles nowadays, without a doubt, but which at that time were celebrated in a special way, for being conquered against the great rival and for closing that Pelusa’s first season with a double joy and superb football from a player out of the ordinary and that, then, June 1983, no one could suspect would end his career at Barça just a year later as he ended it.