The world was in absolute shock and the Neapolitans couldn’t believe their senses when the world’s most expensive player moved to one of the world’s poorest cities and led the team which have never won a Serie A title to two Scudetti and a UEFA cup. The signing of Maradona itself was a huge reason for the people of Naples to celebrate but when he won them the titles they could’ve never imagined of, that’s the moment when the Argentine boy Diego Maradona became Santo Diego for them. With the streets of Naples painted in blue with flags and ribbons and chants hailing Diego pulsating everywhere, it took months for Neapolitans to fall back to their senses and accept that they have become the champions of Italy. And for one last time, Neapolitans were out on 25th November 2020, wearing the blue colour, carrying Diego’s photos and chanting his name through the streets of Naples, as their Saint, the greatest of all-time bid adieu to the mortal world.
Debates on Maradona’s might as a player and a person shall go on forever but for the city of Naples and its people, Maradona is so much more than just the greatest football player of all time. He will remain a godly figure, a ray of hope, an emotion that led them through their darkest times. He had the courage, conscience, and resilience to take football beyond the pitch and elevate it to a political act embarking millions of hearts with a sense of hope and feeling of redemption.
From the slums of Buenos Aires to attaining the stature of a demigod for millions of Argentines and Neapolitans, Maradona was all a footballer could ever imagine of becoming. He has etched his name in golden scripts in the history of world football and the people of Naples, Argentina and football lovers across the globe through his charisma, leadership qualities and love for the game. Maradona might be flawed as a person but as a player, no one can ever reach the greatness he has achieved with a ball at his feet. He had qualities which no other footballing personalities can never boast about. He wasn’t a player but a politician who rebelled against the atrocities against the people. Football was just a medium for him. Diego’s might is beyond football and the politics of nations. Wherever he’s played, no one could ever own the player in Maradona. He was never a player for a particular club or country but the people, he represented them as one among them. That is the sole reason why the people of Napoli still celebrates Diego, decades after his departure, not as a person or a player but as Santo Diego, the Saint send by God to save them from all the atrocities. For Neapolitans, Maradona stays eternal, he’s the patron saint of Naples and champion of the people. And they celebrate him now and forever by singing,
‘OH, MAMMA, MAMMA, MAMMA, DO YOU KNOW WHY MY HEART BEATS?
‘I’VE SEEN MARADONA, I’VE SEEN MARADONA, AND MAMMA, I’M IN LOVE.’