No sane person would suggest that Maradona was some kind of angel. His history with substance abuse is well known, at times he flaunted his wealth and he had illegitimate children. But make no mistake, through his later repentance he was a genuine working class hero.
Humble beginnings of Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona was born on 30 October 1960, at the Policlínico (Polyclinic) Evita Hospital in Lanús, Buenos Aires Province. The family had moved there from the countryside in order to try and better their lives, but like so many that came before and after lived in a shantytown.
The early years of his life were marked by the military dictatorship of the time and intense poverty. He received his first football at the age of 3 and it was not too long before he began to be noticed. At 8 years old he joined the junior team of Buenos Aires’s Argentinos Junior. At the time he listed his inspiration as the Northern Irishman George Best. Ironically he was to die on exactly the same day as his idol, although 15 years later.
The beginnings of a legend
At 15 years old he made his debut for Argentinos Junior, quickly becoming a fan favorite. This led to a record breaking move to Boco Juniors, followed by a world record transfer to Barcelona.
Although successful at Barcelona his temperament did not fit in with the Catalan giants and he was to make a surprise world record transfer to Napoli. Diego Maradona was greeted on his arrival in Naples by 75.000 supporters. These people felt that their savior had arrived. They were not wrong as he led Napoli to numerous successes both domestically and internationally.
In 1986 he was seemingly at the top of the world when he led Argentina to success at the 1986 World Cup. His two goals against England typifying who he was. The first was a blatant hand ball that he called the “hand of god”, whilst the second was probably the best ever scored at a World Cup.
But things were crumbling behind the scenes
The excesses of Diego Maradona
Take a teenager who has nothing and then give him millions of dollars. Without support there will inevitably be problems.
Having been born to such poverty, Maradona struggled with the fame, infamy, and money that surrounded being such a global brand. He began using cocaine in the mid 80’s, something which was tacitly accepted by his club. He was to remain addicted to cocaine until at least 2004 and was twice banned from football as a result of drug use. He also fathered a son during this period, also called Diego. He did not acknowledge himself as the father until his son had reached adulthood.
To read about the Maradona family click here.
In the late 2000’s he was frequently in rehab and his death was reported on multiple occasions. But, with the help of doctors in Argentina and Cuba he was able to beat his obesity and addiction to cocaine. Sadly alcoholism was never to leave him.
The political views of Maradona
Having grown up witnessing the poverty the excesses of capitalism had thrown onto the Argentinian people it was no surprise that Diego would lean towards the left. He famously had a tattoo of Fidel Castro on his left leg and one of Che on his right arm. Maradona frequently espoused left-wing views, views which he was not scared about sharing in public.
Friendship with Fidel and other left-wing activism
Diego Maradona was famously good friends with Fidel Castro, even dedicating his autobiography to Fidel and the people of Cuba. It is said that they enjoyed a father-son type relationship.
To read about the relationship between Fidel and Diego click here.
But his left-wing activism was not restricted to being palls with Fidel Castro. He was an ardent supporter of Hugo Chavez. After meeting him declaring himself a Chavista, his support continued with Maduro. He would also stand up on numerous times against imperialism in places as far flung as Iran. Maradona was not just some opinionated rich kid, he used his money. Maradona used his influence to further his left-wing ideals. Ideals that had been cemented in those formative years living in s shanty town.
How can you be rich and left-wing?
Maradona was undoubtedly rich, he also undoubtedly flaunted this wealth in the 80’s and 90’s without much care for others around him. But in the 2000’s to the present time he was a changed man. As a changed he used his profile to help those less fortunate than him.
Idiots on the right will pull their usual “well why doesn’t he give away his money then”. The same crap that is thrown on Russel Brand or anyone else with money that has left wing views.
To see Russel Brand’s take on the death of Diego Mardaona click here.
Yet this idiotic logic is just that, idiotic. You can be left-wing and and still not agree with the system. Just as you you can be right-wing yet still use the public services you despise. Being left-wing does not mean you want to be poor, it means you do not want others to be poor. That is a point that the right-wing media will never get. Bernie Sanders is not a hypocrite for saying people should pay more taxes. He has said we he happily pay more, but only if everyone else does.
Diego Maradona can be seen in the same breath, he was a product of s system that he did not necessarily believe in. He may have made mistakes, many mistakes in fact. But, with age came his redemption. He was heavily involved in charity work on the world stage and a huge advocate for left-wing values and causes.
Diego Maradona may have had his flaws, but so do most heroes. Diego Maradona was a working class hero, and no retconning of history can change that.
The haters will undoubtedly hate on this article, but who cares.
RIP Diego Maradona, the world and the left have lost an inspirational leader.