I was born 1528 days after World Cup 86. The World Cup in Argentina. The World Cup Diego Armando Maradona. The World Cup with the best goal of all time and from the hand of God. EL MUNDIAL, like this, in capital letters.
I have almost no memories of Maradona as a footballer. The only match of his that I saw live and direct was his farewell at La Bombonera in 2001, but I was 11 years old and I didn’t understand anything. “What do you mean that the ball does not stain, Ma? I asked my mother. I don’t remember what her answer was. Or if there was any explanation.
I did not shout goals from Diego. If I sang Rodrigo’s Hand of God at all the parties of my adolescence. I danced and did pogo on the chorus until I was exhausted. “Shortly after Marado, Marado, the Twelve was the one who chanted, Marado, Marado, his dream had a star, full of goals and dribbles”… GRANDE DIEGO !!, We would shout and jump and push ourselves again and celebrate the song and the figure of Maradona as if we all knew them and had seen him play.
I would have loved to be more contemporary with the Diego player, but the coach Diego also had his Maradonian epic with the Argentine National Team. And that marked me forever. The remembered dip in El Monumental and the goal of a Loco in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Both stories have the same co-star: Martín Palermo.
For more than as a confessed fan of Boca JuniorsPalermo was always one of my idols, I must admit that my idea of him as a xeneize footballer was very different from his as a national team player. At the age of ten, the only thing I knew about Palermo with the albiceleste is that I had missed three penalties in the same match in a Copa América because I had read about it in the book Guinness of world records. What happened next was all thanks to Diego and his faith in Palermo.
Maradona took over as coach of the Argentine National Team in October 2008, after the resignation of Alfio Basile. A year later, in September 2009, he threw the first assist to Martín Palermo: he called him back after 10 years of the forward’s absence from the Argentine National Team. He gave it another chance. He gave him not only the light blue and white jersey number 18, but also gave him a pencil and paper to change his image with the national team or write a new chapter in his life: Palermo did both.
On October 10, 2009, Argentina faced Peru on the penultimate date of the Playoffs for him 2010 South Africa World Cup. He needed to win so as not to be left out. It started 1-0 up with a goal from Higuaín, but Peru tied it in the 89th minute. And later, as Diego Maradona said at a press conference, “and then one more miracle of San Palermo that leaves us one more life …”
In the last play of the game, Pocho Insúa kicked a corner, the ball fell to Fideo Di María, Di María put it in the small area, the round returned to Insúa’s feet, Pocho kicked the goal, and in the second post, and under a universal flood, Palermo pushed her to the back of the net. I do not know how Diego ran when he became world champion, but it must have been similar because from the emotion he shot towards the center of the field and after going around in circles like dogs when they are very happy, he threw himself head over heels. the wet grass and the belly bounced in the puddle and the sure heart too.
And I, who was in the armchair of my parents’ house, jumped in a crazy way and hugged myself with my brothers and also did Diego’s and all the national team players: I ran for several minutes under the rain in any direction to channel the emotion of a Maradonian victory that allowed us to stay alive with the illusion of participating in a new World Cup. And to go with Diego Maradona as DT.
AND SOUTH AFRICA 2010 ARRIVED
Argentina finally qualified and traveled to play the World Cup in South Africa. Maradona took Palermo. Palermo played his first World Cup at the age of 36. A certain Messi, another certain Agüero, a Pipa Higuaín who at that time played for Real Madrid, a Carlitos Tevez who was in Manchester City, a Diego Milito at Inter Italian, were the other strikers called by Maradona and with whom Palermo – at that time in Boca Juniors-, he was competing for the position.
After a very good start for the national team (1-0 to Nigeria and 4-1 to South Korea), the national team had to play the last date of the group stage against Greece. With the classification already assured and with the score 1-0 in favor, Diego sent Palermo to the field instead of Milito. There were ten minutes to play. Who only has ten minutes to break records and mark an incredible chapter in World Cup history? To the Titan, to the Loco, to the Optimist of the Goal, to Martín Palermo.
In the 89th minute, and after a great move by Messi who shot the goal with his left foot, Palermo grabbed the rebound and with the inside of his right leg, the wooden one, crossed it directly to the goal.
And I suppose that Diego did not throw himself on his stomach like in El Monumental because there was no rain that day and because he was in a suit, but I did throw myself from the chair to the floor and kicked with emotion. And Palermo, who had a smile so big that it exceeded the limits of his face, ran to hug Maradona. It was a beautiful show of love, of respect, of gratitude.
“This is unique, this is priceless, I am eternally grateful to Diego, he keeps me looking forward, fighting and knowing that there are so many figures ahead of me, but one always has the hope of being able to be,” Palermo said still on the court nor the game ended well. And when they asked him how far Argentina could go in the World Cup, he replied that they were going to go as far as possible. And as far as possible in the end it was little. Argentina lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals and said goodbye to South Africa.
For that goal against Greece, Palermo broke several records: he broke his 80-year streak without any Boca Juniors player turning into a World Cup; he was the oldest Argentine to score a goal; And from 2010 to 2018, he held the record for being the oldest World Cup debut player to score a goal at 36 years and 191 days.
After South Africa, Diego stopped being the coach of the Argentine National Team. His career as DT continued at Al Wasl and Al Fujairah from Arabia, Dorados from Sinaloa from Mexico, and Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata from Argentina, a club he still managed when He passed away at the age of 60, on November 25, 2020.
As a fanatic fan of Boca and the Argentine National Team, I feel privileged to have lived through some Maradonian epics of coach Diego. That has happened with my idol Martín Palermo as the visible face of the goal, gives him a special bonus. It was Diego who chose the Titan for that to happen. It was a Diego who as DT had, at times, what he had as a player: the ability to see before everyone else what could happen. And dare to take that step forward or that dribble to the sides, so that what could happen, finally happen.
THE LEGACY OF MARADONA
What leaves us who were his contemporaries
What leaves us who enjoy it late
What leaves us who were born after his time
Reasons to arm an awkward idol
The villero and Peronist who embraced his class
The cultural phenomenon
The archetype of the national being
Postcards from Quilmes, Uruguay, Seville and Seoul
Diego’s ideal 11 companions (and friends)