Being of Argentine heritage, I could not help but take interest in Romel Wallen’s article comparing Diego Maradona to Michael Jordan. I understand that the article’s focus was on athletic performance of the individuals and their accomplishments, but even in that light there are a few corrections and other considerations that have to be made.
First of all, while it’s become fashionable to say that Maradona won the 1986 World Cup single-handedly (and certainly I agree it’s not much of stretch to say that), it must be pointed out that soccer truly is a consummate team sport, and Maradona only scored five goals in the entire tournament (this is not a slight, as it’s a very high total for a ten games, just an indication of how much only one player can do).
There were several other very capable players on that team, including the often overlooked Oscar Ruggeri, whose strong defensive presence and timely scoring also helped guarantee victory on the field. Argentina was not lacking in talent outside of Maradona. After all they won their only other World Cup championship (I wish they had won three titles) at home in 1978 behind the play of the admirable Mario Kempes, who had 6 goals in that tournament, by the way. In 1990, Number 10 and his no names would not have sniffed the finals without the brave performance of backup goalkeeper Sergio Goicochea in a memorable penalty shootout with Italy.
No doubt Maradona has scored some memorable goals, but I find it amusing that the “Hand of God” goal would be named the greatest goal ever, since it was a blatantly illegal handball. A better example of Diego’s greatness would be found in his other goal in that very same game, where he absolutely schooled seven English defenders as he dribbled from his own half of the field to score. You are correct that Maradona lifted the spirits of the country and its economy, but his fall from grace into drug use brought it down just as quickly. No one is a greater source of embarrassment for his country nowadays. To see him around people like Fidel Castro is to make one’s stomach turn. It became painfully clear that one could no longer be proud of the now woefully overweight Diego Maradona during his appearance (over an hour late) at the recent retirement match of Mexican star Carlos Hermosillo. It’s very sad when you realize how much he could have done for the sport like Pele or Lothar Mattheus by playing in America, but he could not get a visa to come here after his ejection for drug use from World Cup 94 in USA.
The man was a great athlete in his day, but I cannot see him compared to the likes Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky.
Michael Leparc ’05
Editor’s note: The reference to the “Hand of God” goal was made by an editor. The writer had intended to refer to Maradona’s other goal in the game. We apologize for the confusion.