Maradona’s death did not change much. The scandals and scandals have come to light. “Diego is still alive” Soccer

A year ago, Argentina burst into tears. Old and young cried. All. Some people are sobbing to this day, like the head of the Argentinean league who fell apart in front of the cameras at the mention of Maradona and could not utter a word. And he didn’t even know Maradona personally. The footballer, who was a symbol of Argentina, for good and bad, died.

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He gave her the world championship in 1986. Second after the one won at their own stadiums in 1978, which Argentina does not love so much, because it was a victory for the military junta that ruled the country at the time. Argentina loves the World Cup in Mexico as Maradona stole the hearts and led the team to the cup on their terms. Singing vulgar songs with friends in the dressing room about journalists who did not believe in the team, nodding five Englishmen in one action and scoring a goal with their hand in another. To the English who had humiliated Argentina not long before in the Falklands War. The country was beaten, in crisis, and he and his team gave the people moments of happiness. Argentina had never forgotten him.

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Even if he later embarrassed her with his behavior many times, sometimes he even made a laughingstock. The Argentines could be ashamed of him, but they never denied him. When he was touring Argentine cities in his last job as a coach of Gymnasia La Plata, crowds gathered in front of the hotels to sing and beg him to go out to them at least for a moment. They saw features in him that they would like to see in themselves. As long as he was on the pitch, they prayed to him in difficult times, then they had to pray for him many times.

The main character disappeared a year ago, but little has changed around

A year has passed since his death, and the Argentines continue to sit down to Maradona as if they were to a soap opera. The main character is no longer on the screen, but the temperature does not drop. There are scandals – a few days ago, Mavys Alvarez, a 36-year-old from Cuba, said that 20 years ago she met Maradona in rehab with Fidel Castro and was raped by a football player.

There are also unbelievable stories, like the one about the ultras from Gymnasia who planned to break into and steal the heart from Diego’s body. Their plan was discovered in time, but even if they had gotten to Maradona, they wouldn’t have found a heart. Doctor Nelson Castro, who wrote the book “Diego’s Health: The True Story”, revealed that the footballer was buried without a heart left for examination to determine the cause of death. By the way, he hinted that it was huge and weighed as much as half a kilo, which is at least 200 grams more than the heart of an average man. You can add a romantic story about Diego with a big heart, but it is better to warn that it is from the failure he has been working on for years of drinking and drugs.

There are also arguments and lots of noise. Maradona’s immediate family and Matias Morla, his former agent, are judged for the rights to the image of Maradona. Morla says his daughters put him up for certain death. They reply that Morla is a sneaky and greedy man. The case continues and the audience applauds. The doctors who have dealt with Maradona in recent years are also waiting for the judgment. A neurosurgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, pediatrician and four nurses face 8 to 25 years in prison for neglect and lack of diligence in caring for the patient, which was to lead to his death. Sometimes they had to forget about the pills, and sometimes serve him alcohol in the morning to make him calmer during the day.

Diego Maradona's son is delighted with the Polish representative. Diego Maradona’s son is delighted with the Polish representative. “He is a complete footballer”

False alarm. Diego Maradona underwent brain surgery three weeks before his death

But most of all, it was Maradona himself who for years treated death as a field rival: he rushed at it and swayed at the last moment. His obituaries have appeared regularly over the past 20 years. Already in 2000, the television program “Cronica” interrupted the program and displayed information about his death for three minutes, and a few years later it was so bad with him that he managed to receive the last rites. In 2018, there were also rumors that he died. But he himself denied them after a few hours, shouting to journalists: “I’m alive, son of a bitch!”. Last year, just three days after his 60th birthday and just over 20 days before his death, his life was once again in danger. This did not surprise their friends, because they had long suspected his depression: he did not want to eat, he could not stop drinking. He drank the tranquilizer pills with alcohol. The fans also could not be surprised, because when Maradona appeared on his birthday at the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata stadium, he was pale, sluggish and even slower than usual. His assistants led him to the coaching bench. “He walked as if he had broken knees and clay feet,” one newspaper reported.

Protests in Buenos Aires after Diego Maradona's deathThousands of people and the Maradona family on the streets of Buenos Aires. “He Didn’t Die, They Killed Him”

The next day, he landed in a hospital in La Plata, 60 kilometers outside of Buenos Aires. Anemia, coronavirus, dehydration and exhaustion, another heart attack, a stroke – journalists shot. And the fans were on their way to the hospital. The first to appear at the door, right behind the ambulance, after a few hours the crowd was hundreds of people. Some with banners, others with rosaries, stared at the window of the room.

Maradona has suffered one of the most serious brain injuries, usually caused by severe shock or from years of drinking. Diego denied having hit himself recently.

– The operation lasted over an hour and went without any complications – said Leopoldo Luque, Diego’s doctor. Then the hero, today one of the accused of contributing to his death. He finished his sentence, turned to the automatic doors of the Olivos clinic, and couldn’t believe it. The crowd chanted his name, and the applause was so loud that he felt shivers down his spine. He dreamed of such a moment as a child. He remembers watching matches with his parents, who calmed him down when he was losing his mind: “don’t be upset, we’ll win anyway, because we have Maradona.” He grew up in his cult and wanted to play like him, be the hero of the crowds, but he quickly realized He didn’t have enough talent. He abandoned his dreams of great fame and became a neurosurgeon. Four years ago he received a phone call that changed everything. “Diego can’t sleep, will you help him?” the next night he did not sleep a night, and for four years he was Maradona’s doctor.

After a moment, Luque turned to face the people, smiled gently, waved. They screamed even louder. Some squeezed rosaries, others held banners – “Silence. God is sleeping”. Earlier, he told journalists how the operation was going, and he did not expect that he would be interrupted in the middle by asking if Diego had cut the hematoma from his brain “by the hand of God”. There was madness all around: he had never seen so many cameras and so many people in front of a hospital. They sang, danced, drank, cried, and knelt. Diego’s fame passed to him: with the benefit of inventory. People fell in love with him, began to treat him as a national hero, he had more followers on Instagram, but gossip sites also showed his wife and children, journalists tucked dictaphones under his helmet when he rode his motorcycle away from the hospital. One of the newspapers also pulled out a story from years ago in which he was accused of killing a man during a New Year’s brawl. The court acquitted him, but now he had to confess in public. Finally the clinic door slid open and Luque was gone.

The worst thing was ahead of him: Diego was yet to wake up. Excessively sweaty, shaky, furious. He didn’t want to be in the clinic any longer. He demanded to be released home, but the doctors agreed that since, after weeks of persuading him, he was finally put in a hospital bed, he had to be held down for as long as possible. Away from alcohol, which he has reportedly jumped from cocaine in recent years. Only here they had control over it. But he dreamed of a big birthday party, not celebrating sixty in a hospital room. His followers took to the streets of Buenos Aires, sang a hundred years, drank his health, waved flags and balloons “60”, on Avenida 9 de Julho, an imposing avenue crossing the center of Buenos Aires, another large mural was painted for him. He couldn’t be there. In solitude, he drank more bottles of alcohol, swallowed painkillers, took sedative powders, ate whatever he wanted, and finally stopped altogether.

– With Diego, nothing is easy. Now that he sees me, he wants to kill me. He’s the most difficult patient I’ve ever had, but I think he wants to be treated. He’s mentally bad, he should stop drinking. Diego has liver problems, cardiovascular problems, and neurological problems. He needs peace. We operated on his brain, but there is also his stomach, heart … – the 39-year-old doctor enumerated to journalists.

Diego Maradona – the epitome of Argentina

They did not manage to operate on their hearts. It ceased to be November 25, and Maradona never found out what peace was. He was never alone. He made his debut as a teenager and was immediately the best. People treated him as a gift from Gods to all of them. The slum boy became an idol for the poor and filthy rich. At the age of 15, he was already supporting his family. He was doing best in the spotlight. He loved to be loved. But over time, and love overwhelmed him. He was slapped on the back so often that years later he had a phobia and reacted with rage to strangers’ touch.

He was the epitome of Argentina – with all the ambiguity and life between extremes. For each of his great successes there was a drug mishap. For every fine goal, at least one scandal. In Naples, he had the love of fans and the Camorra on his back. He played from Sunday to Wednesday, and the next two days he recovered to delight again on Saturday. He shot journalists with an air gun, and his countrymen named the church after him anyway. A nurse from Naples allegedly stole a test tube with his blood and took it to the church instead of to the laboratory. Only Maradona could in one match score the goal of the century and perform the deception of the century, as with England in 1986. Cunning, the joy of defeating opponents and suspicion of power are the national traits of the Argentineans. And personal Maradons.

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– His life is a beautiful dream and a nightmare at the same time – summed up his fitness trainer Fernando Signorini years ago. “Maradona thinks he is God and this is one of the causes of his problems,” said Hector Pezzella, director of the Guemes clinic in Buenos Aires, who treated Diego a few years ago. In the country, everyone had an opinion about him: loved it or hated it. But even when he hated, he was grateful for something. And he certainly wanted to know how he was doing. And he wants to know to this day.

About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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