Argentina fans who doubted Diego Maradona: 'Please forgive us!'
After leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup championship with his notorious 'hand of god,' Diego Maradona fell from grace among countrymen. He's now proving himself again as a soccer icon.
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Maradona wears a tracksuit at practices and kicks the ball around with his players. When subs come off the field, Maradona gives them long hugs and kisses, as if he’s the 12th man on the field. He sports a gray suit and silver tie – and clutches a rosary in his "hand of god" – at the games (though he immediately changes out of his professional attire for post-game press conferences).Skip to next paragraph
Gallery Top 2010 World Cup controversies
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Many say it is Diego’s almost magical intuition about the game that has propelled the team forward.
Miguel Gallardo, a doorman in the upscale Recoletta neighborhood, says that the pre-Cup troubles were nothing more than Maradona’s grand strategy not to reveal the team’s playing style. “He had it in his head all along," he argues. "A lot of people are going to have to ask for forgiveness.”
“I think in Maradona’s case, it’s a spiritual sort of mystical thing that has made it possible for him to get to the point where he is now,” says Schvarzstein. “You never know what is important in these battles — the passion for the game, to make the people who are with you believe that they can do it.”
One of Maradona’s more popular moves this World Cup made little practical difference. In their final first round match against Greece, when Argentina had already secured a second round birth, Maradona substituted in Martin Palermo, the aging star striker from Boca Juniors, in the final minutes. Palermo had never before played in the World Cup. In the 89th minute, Palermo scored an insurance goal, securing Argentina’s 2-0 victory.
Argentina faces Germany on Saturday in the quarterfinals, a replay of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals. It will be Argentina’s most difficult game of the tournament so far. But faith that Argentina can win is growing.
World Cup 101:
- World Cup 101: How does the tournament work?
- World Cup 101: Why is the World Cup such a big deal?
- World Cup 101: Why is the World Cup in South Africa?
- World Cup 101: Is South Africa really prepared to host the World Cup?
- World Cup 101: Who’s favored to win it all?