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Maradona & Morality

The life of Diego Maradona is already one of our greatest modern morality tales. It has it all. He had unparalleled skill. He achieved superstardom. He was done in by his addictions. He sought redemption.

The only question now is: how does it end?

Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest soccer player who ever lived. His “Hand of God” goal is probably the most controversial play in soccer history. He played for more big clubs in big games than just about anyone (ever). Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Maradona is only 48 because sometimes it feels like (and looks like) he has lived for centuries.

This guy has demons that the rest of us don’t have to deal with. Addiction is certainly part of his life. For a time, he was addicted to soccer (and blow). The white stuff got him suspended from pro soccer for a year during his prime. Another positive banned substance test got him booted from the 1994 World Cup.

After his playing days were done, he was addicted to food (and still blow). In 2005, he got his stomach stapled. He quit the blow. He stopped overeating (it was either that or explode). He ended up hosting a talk show. He was Argentina’s Rosie O’Donnell and he was heading for that big fade into the past. Irrelevance stalked him.

He started drinking. Like I said, he had an addictive personality. In March 2007, he was admitted to a hospital because his alcohol problem was so bad. He was a man among men (even though he was a mere 5’5″), but his life was one that was both celebrated and pitied. 

But, he is suddenly a man with an opportunity to right his wrongs. Next month, Maradona will take control of the most talented soccer squad in the world (sorry, Spain).

Argentina’s National Team is insanely loaded. I think I could probably manage them by most international squads. But, the World Cup in 2010 is a different story. Maradona will need to start studying now if he intends to be ready for South Africa. He needs to become addicted to soccer again.

Maradona has coached twice before. Both times he was unimpressive and his teams floundered. The decision to hand him the reins has been rightly questioned by pundits of several nationalities. But, in Argentina, I don’t think they are that worried. They have some of the best attacking players in the world in Messi and Tevez (if both are healthy). All he needs to do is not mess it up.

Can he accomplish that?

We’ll see. 

The final chapter of this morality tale will be written about either the redemption or ridicule of Diego Maradona.